Arrests made over bad milk
Police in the north have arrested seven people suspected of producing powdered milk tainted with the same industrial chemical that killed at least six babies in 2008, state press said yesterday. Wang Zhigang (王志剛), an official at the Jinfulai dairy company in Shanxi Province, was among those arrested for allegedly putting excessive amounts of melamine in the milk powder, the Procuratorial Daily reported. The 26 tonnes of tainted product had also been made with unsold milk powder past its sell-by date and then distributed in the provinces of Hunan and Henan, it added. Melamine, normally used in plastics and other products, was added to milk to make it appear to have higher protein content.
Trains collide in bad weather
Two trains collided in bad weather yesterday in an early morning accident that left at least 22 dead and dozens injured, railway and police officials told reporters. The crash occurred in the Shivpuri district of Madhya Pradesh, about 350km from state capital Bhopal, when a goods train smashed into a passenger train waiting at a station in heavy rain. “Relief operations are on while the injured are being admitted to nearby hospitals,” local railway manager Ghanshyam Singh told reporters. A railway spokesman in Bhopal said 50 people were injured and 18 had been hospitalized. Television pictures showed several damaged carriages, one of which had been lifted up off the tracks by the force of the accident.
Former refugee sentenced
A court sentenced a Sri Lanka-born refugee to more than five years in prison yesterday for helping to smuggle almost 200 asylum seekers in a leaky boat. Asylum seekers from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are taking boats in record numbers, fueling a divisive debate among political parties about how they can be deterred. Sydney spice shop owner Pathmendra Pulendren, 36, pleaded guilty this month to acting as an agent for an Indonesia-based Sri Lankan who arranged the passage of 20 ethnic Tamil Sri Lankan men in a boat from Malaysia in June last year. Pulendren, who came by boat in 2007 as a Tamil asylum seeker, alerted police to the voyage when he discovered that 194 Tamils were to make it. “He told police that he believed that the vessel was overcrowded and feared for the safety of the people on board,” Judge Robyn Tupman said during Pulendren’s sentencing. Pulendren must serve at least three years before he is eligible for parole.
Monsoon rains kill dozens
Heavy monsoon rains and landslides swept the hilly areas of the north over the weekend, killing at least 47 people, officials said yesterday. Twenty-four people died on Sunday as falling boulders crushed their homes in three villages in Almorah district in Uttrakhand state, said Prashant Kumar Tamta, a state government spokesman. Another 23 people were either swept away by floodwaters or died when homes collapsed in landslides in the Pitthoragarh, Champawat and Uttarkashi regions of the state on Saturday and Sunday, Tamta said. Rains continued to lash the region yesterday, threatening dozens of villages near Tehri Dam whose water level was nearing the danger level. The country is experiencing an excessive rainfall during this monsoon season after a drought last year. The rainfall recorded between Sept. 1 and Wednesday last week was 22 percent above the average for the period, according to the India Meteorological Department.