Flooding kills two
Flooding in the south has killed two people and more than 50,000 have fled to relief shelters as rains are still falling. A relief coordinator in Johor state, the worst hit, said two women drowned when their cars were swept away by floodwaters over the weekend. More than 47,800 people were staying in 265 shelters yesterday. The relief official declined to be named citing protocol. Evacuations also took place in Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Pahang states, as well as Sabah state on Borneo because of flooding.
Volcano shoots ash 2km up
A volcano in the south shot ash and rocks up to 2,000m into the air, with the blast shattering windows kilometers away in a huge explosion, officials said. Authorities widened the danger zone around the 1,421m Shinmoedake volcano in the Kirishima range, which has been belching smoke and ash since Wednesday last week. The latest blast came shortly before 8am yesterday. Flying shards from broken hospital windows left a 92-year-old woman with hand and facial injuries, a Kirishima city official said, adding that almost 200 windows were smashed at schools and public halls.
Exodus gets under way
Millions began traveling to their hometowns yesterday as the Lunar New Year exodus got under way. More than 31 million people, 62 percent of the population, were to be on the move between yesterday and Sunday, up 3.2 percent from a year earlier, the transport ministry predicted. Highways were jammed on the eve of the holiday, but travel to and from hometowns was expected to cause fewer headaches this year because of the long break. About 2.6 million cars have already left the capital or were to leave later yesterday, the Korea Expressway Corp said. Railway authorities said tickets for trains departing Seoul yesterday had already sold out, with 414,000 passengers set to travel by rail during the day.
Ampatuan Sr to stand trial
The patriarch of a political clan must stand trial for the murder of 57 people in November 2009 after his petition to have the charges dropped was thrown out, a lawyer said yesterday. The Court of Appeal dismissed Andal Ampatuan Sr’s claims of abuse of discretion and failure to observe due process in filing murder charges against him and his sons. Ampatuan and one of his sons, Andal Jr, both face the murder charges, said Prima Jesusa Quinsayas, a lawyer for the families of some of those killed. “There are no more obstacles for his trial and we hope it will start within the month,” she added.
Chirac wife denies claims
The wife of former president Jacques Chirac has denied he is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and is too frail to face corruption charges. Bernadette Chirac said she was “scandalized” by the reports, calling them an attack on her husband’s privacy. The former first lady’s outburst came after the Journal du Dimanche said Chirac, 78, suffered from memory lapses, and quoted unnamed friends as saying his wife feared he had Alzheimer’s. She told radio station Europe 1 the reports were “a lie” and that although he had some health problems, he could also be “dazzling.” “Doctors have said he doesn’t have Alzheimer’s and I believe them ... if my husband was suffering from this illness I would not hesitate to say so,” she said.
Envoy quits Beijing post