Troops break up protest
Media reports and eyewitnesses say paramilitary troops and riot police have defused a large-scale, five-day protest by thousands of farmers who were upset about being moved off their land. State media yesterday called the protest that began last Friday one of the largest to roil the country this year. Reports say about 2,000 farmers blocked a road in the county seat of Suijiang to protest what they say was inadequate compensation for being relocated for a dam. At times, protesters surrounded and scuffled with police officials trying to persuade them to leave. About 400 paramilitary troops, tactical unit police and militia members confronted the protesters on Tuesday after warning them to leave the day before. The protesters then dispersed.
Quake victims unidentifiable
Some victims of Christchurch’s deadly earthquake more than a month ago may never be identified and their remains may be buried in a mass grave, the country’s chief coroner said yesterday. Police have named 169 victims of the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that hit the southern city on Feb. 22, but say they have yet to identify partial remains of others and the final death toll may be 180. Chief coroner Judge Neil McLean told National Radio on Thursday that in some cases the remains were so damaged or small that identification even by DNA analysis might not be possible. McLean said he would meet with victims’ families and embassy staff representing international victims in Christchurch today to discuss the progress of the identification effort and what should be done with remains that cannot be identified. All of the victims still to be identified were from the Canterbury Television building that completely collapsed in the quake. Students from Japan, China and other countries were among those buried in the building, which housed an English language school.
Plane crash kills four
Two members of a prominent farming family were fighting for their lives yesterday after a light plane “fell out of the sky” and killed the other four people on board. The six-seat, single-engine Piper Cherokee crashed in relatively good weather late on Wednesday near a trailer park in northern New South Wales state. Among the dead was Digby Boland, 77, his wife Robyn, 77, daughter Michelle, 47, and the pilot, Phillip Jones, 63. Also on board were the son of the elderly couple, Guy, 42, and his daughter Hannah, 12, who miraculously survived and were being treated in hospital, police said. Local reports said the Boland family were well known in the area, with the clan first arriving in the district in 1889.
Actor sentenced for rape
Award-winning Bollywood actor Shiney Ahuja was sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday for raping his maid, his lawyer said, in a case that shocked the world’s largest film industry. Ahuja was granted bail in October 2009 and ordered by the court to leave Mumbai, the home of Bollywood, three months after he was arrested on charges of rape, criminal intimidation and wrongful confinement of his maid, who is now 20 years old. The 37-year-old actor will appeal against the sentence in the Mumbai High Court, lawyer Srikant Shivade said. The trial court was closed to reporters. Ahuja won a slew of awards for his 2003 debut in the critically acclaimed Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi. He has maintained his innocence throughout the trial.