Crash rumors denied
China’s Xinhua news agency has denied widespread rumors that railway authorities tried to conceal evidence by burying carriages damaged during a high-speed rail crash that killed at least 40 people last weekend. Citing an unnamed official with the Ministry of Railways, Xinhua said late on Friday that “the problem of burying rail carriages and ‘destroying evidence’ does not exist during the handling of the whole of the accident.” The report said that only the damaged parts of some carriages were buried at the site in order to facilitate clean-up and rescue operations. A high-speed train rammed into the back of another in Wenzhou on July 23. A Chinese railway research institute has already taken responsibility for the accident, blaming faulty signaling equipment.
Blackout halts air travel
The travel plans of thousands of Australians were disrupted yesterday by a power outage at Sydney’s international airport. Australia’s busiest air terminal was blacked out for an hour and a half, crippling security screening and check-in and delaying “thousands” of passengers, a Sydney Airport spokesman said. “The cause of the failure is under investigation,” he said, estimating that it would take “several hours” to get back on schedule. Back-up generators also took “some time” to come on, he added, compounding the problem. The reason for the generator problems was also being investigated, he said. Passengers said the outage brought customs and security to “a standstill” and there was “chaos” in the terminal, with huge lines as people were manually processed. “Madness at Sydney Airport! Nobody going anywhere!” one passenger wrote on Twitter.
Sex traffic women freed
Thai authorities freed 71 women and girls who had been lured into selling sex in massage parlors and karaoke bars, police said yesterday, after a crackdown on human trafficking on the Malaysian border. Thirteen of those were under the age of 18, said Lieutenant Colonel Noppadon Petsut, deputy commander of police in Sadao district of Songkhla province, where the operation was carried out on Friday. “The operation followed complaints by the Laotian embassy in Bangkok,” he said, adding that 70 of the young women were Laotian and one was from Myanmar. A Singaporean man, a Malaysian man and a Thai woman were charged with human trafficking and illegally procuring sex, Noppadon said. “Charges of human trafficking are very serious and carry a maximum sentence of the death penalty,” he said. Police freed 59 women from a karaoke bar and another 12 from a spa near a Thai--Malaysian border checkpoint. Another officer said it was believed that the women and girls were sold to the suspects by brokers and forced to work as prostitutes.
Thousands flee Nock-ten
Vietnam is evacuating nearly 300,000 people from northern coastal areas as Tropical Storm Nock-ten approaches after leaving a path of destruction in the Philippines. Disaster official Nguyen Xuan Hung of central Nghe An Province says provincial authorities have begun evacuating 13,500 people from coastal villages, while more than 30,000 are being moved in neighboring Thanh Hoa Province. Weather forecasters said the storm was expected to hit northern Vietnam yesterday evening packed with sustained winds of up to 102km per hour. Nock-ten left 41 people dead and 26 missing when it hit the Philippines earlier this week.