iPad 2 craze leads to ruckus
Four people were taken to hospital and a glass door smashed as a near-riot broke out at Beijing’s top Apple store among crowds rushing to snap up the iPad 2 tablet computer, state press said yesterday. Angry consumers began rushing the store on Saturday afternoon after a “foreign” Apple employee allegedly stepped into the crowd to push and beat people suspected of jumping the line, the Beijing News said. After the employee retreated back into the store, a crowd of consumers smashed the glass front door and shoved security guards as they surged forward in anger over the alleged beatings, the report said. Consumers had lined up for hours at Apple stores in Beijing and Shanghai since the iPad 2 went on sale on Friday.
Storm leaves nine dead
Tropical Storm Aere slammed into the eastern seaboard yesterday, bringing heavy rains and landslides that have so far killed nine people and left more than 4,000 stranded, officials said. The state weather bureau said Aere made landfall over the island of Catanduanes before noon and was expected to take a northeasterly path for the rest of the day. Three people were killed when heavy rains triggered a landslide in the province of Camarines Sur in the eastern Bicol region and buried a house. More than 100,000 villagers have fled farming towns threatened by landslides. Aere, the first major weather disturbance of the year, hit Catanduanes with maximum winds of 85kph at its center and gusts of up to 100kph. Storm alert warnings had been raised over at least 12 provinces in the main island of Luzon and the eastern Bicol, the civil defense office in Manila said.
Official touts nuclear power
A top official said the country would maintain atomic power as part of its energy policy despite the ongoing nuclear crisis. Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku said yesterday that the government would “stick to nuclear power as a national energy policy.” He made the comment on a talk show on public broadcaster NHK. Sengoku also said the government had no plans to halt nuclear reactors other than three at the Hamaoka power plant. On Friday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he had asked the plant to suspend operations at the reactors until a seawall is built and backup systems are improved.
Refugee boat runs aground
A boat carrying 500 refugees from Libya ran aground as it neared a port yesterday, forcing many of those on board to jump into the sea, officials said after all were successfully rescued. The boat hit some rocks on the approach to the island of Lampedusa in the south, sparking panic among those on board — most of them migrant workers from Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia who had been living in Libya. Coast guards immediately intervened, plucking dozens from the water, including women and children, and rescuing those still on board. Television images showed chaotic scenes as refugees clung on to ropes cast between the shoreline and the fishing boat and officers dived in to help. “It was a difficult situation. Our patrol boats couldn’t come close because of the shallow water,” Antonio Morana, a coast guard spokesman, said after the pre-dawn incident. A few of the refugees suffered slight injuries and have been hospitalized.
Mass wedding held
About 350 couples have been married according to Indian customs and traditions in a colorful Andean mass wedding with President Evo Morales presiding as best man. Saturday’s ceremony was held at a stadium in La Paz that was adorned with large white flowers and indigenous banners. Several bands serenaded the couples. Indian religious leaders presided over the wedding as did, symbolically, Pachamama — the earth deity of the Aymara and Quechua races of the nation’s highlands Indians. Morales gave a speech to the couples, who crowded the arena’s floor wearing multicolored ponchos and hats. Before the ceremony, each couple married in a civil ceremony.