Gunmen free hostages
Gunmen who held six hostages inside a bank for three hours surrendered peacefully yesterday after a botched robbery in a crowded commercial district south of Manila, officials said. The four gunmen gave themselves up after being assured of their safety, said Bacoor Township Mayor Strike Revilla in Cavite province. Provincial police chief John Bulalacao said the gunmen had held five employees, including a security guard, and one depositor. He said no one was hurt. Bulalacao said the gunmen had demanded a get-away vehicle and the presence of journalists to ensure they would not be harmed. After the gunmen freed one hostage, a police negotiator persuaded the gunmen to surrender to avoid bloodshed. The jittery gunmen relented and walked out of the bank with their hostages, drawing applause from hundreds of people watching nearby.
A militant was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping set up a terrorist cell plotting attacks on Western hotels and embassies in the capital. Abu Tholut is among more than 120 alleged members of Tanzim al-Qaeda in Aceh captured or killed since authorities discovered their jihadi training camp in westernmost Aceh Province last year. Judge Musa Arif Aini told the West Jakarta District Court yesterday the 50-year-old militant helped set up the camp and procure M16 assault rifles and other weapons for the group.
Mekong flood toll increases
The country said nine more deaths have brought the toll from the Mekong Delta’s worst flooding in more than a decade to 43 people, mostly children. The government said yesterday the seasonal floods have submerged about 70,000 homes. The waters have damaged an estimated US$55 million in crops and infrastructure in the south since late August. The high water levels also prevented more than 234,000 students from attending schools.
Bus veers off mountain
A crowded bus veered off a mountain highway and into a river yesterday, killing at least 35 people and leaving many more missing, police said. Police and army rescuers were on the way to the scene of the accident to help villagers with the rescue operation, police official Rana Bahadur Basnet said. He said rescuers were having a hard time reaching the wreckage, which was in the Sunkosi River near Jhagajholi village, 240km east of Katmandu. The bus was traveling on the B.P. Koirala Highway, a narrow route with hairpin bends that in most parts is just wide enough for one vehicle to pass. The site of the accident is a four-hour drive from the nearest city.
NYC crash victim dies
A woman who was hospitalized after a helicopter crashed into New York City’s East River died a week after the accident killed her partner. A hospital spokeswoman on Wednesday confirmed the death of 43-year-old Helen Tamaki. Tamaki had been in critical condition after the crash. Bellevue Hospital Center spokeswoman Francis Arscott said Tamaki died on Tuesday night. A spokeswoman for the city’s medical examiner said the cause of death was “complications of near drowning.” The helicopter was carrying four passengers and a pilot when it crashed shortly after takeoff on Tuesday last week, killing Sonia Marra, who was celebrating her 40th birthday. Another passenger was seriously injured. The pilot and the fourth passenger were unharmed.