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
US ambassador to China Jon Huntsman Jr delivered a letter of resignation on Monday to President Barack Obama and intends to leave his position on April 30, a White House official said, clearing the way for him to explore a potential 2012 Republican presidential bid. Huntsman has not decided whether to move forward with a candidacy, associates said, but he has had several conversations with a circle of political advisers who are waiting in the wings if he decides to run.
Hospital workers jailed
Lengthy prison terms were on Monday handed to 13 workers at a mental hospital where 26 patients died in a cold snap a year ago. The Havana Provincial Court slapped the longest sentence, 15 years, on the director of the hospital, Wilfredo Castillo, for “misappropriation” and “dereliction of duty,” an official statement read out on the state news broadcast said. The other sentences ranged from five to 15 years. According to the official account, 26 patients died when temperatures plunged to 3.9°C in January last year.
Aristide eligible for passport
Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is eligible for a passport but has not applied for one, officials said on Monday. That followed a letter from the ousted leader’s US lawyer, Ira Kurzban, telling officials at Haiti’s foreign affairs and interior ministries that he understood they had agreed to issue Aristide a diplomatic passport. However, Haitian Interior Minister Paul-Antoine Bien-Aime said in an official letter, sent later on Monday, that no passport had been requested.
Dogs victims of ‘bloodbath’
An organization that fights animal abuse is calling the slaughter of 100 sled dogs by an outdoor adventure company in British Columbia a bloodbath and police are investigating. The British Columbia SPCA’s manager of animal cruelty investigations said on Monday an Outdoor Adventures Whistler employee was told to cull the dogs. Vancouver radio station CKNW radio is reporting that the company expected more sledding business in an anticipated post-Olympics tourism boom that never materialized and the sled dogs were killed.
Shark attacks tourist
A Canadian woman lost an arm and suffered serious injuries to a leg after being attacked by a shark while swimming just off the resort of Cancun, local media reported. Nicole Ruth, 38, was hospitalized and had “her left arm and thigh detached,” the El Diario del Yucatan newspaper said. Apparently the shark was near the shore to give birth and the woman got too close, the paper said.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year