Plane takes off without OK
China Eastern Airlines pledged on Wednesday to improve its crews’ English skills after one of its flights took off from a Japanese airport without authorization. The airline did not say what caused the error, but pledged to “further improve the English communication skills of our flight crews to assure flight safety,” suggesting it may have been a misunderstanding. The airline also said it was cooperating with an investigation by Japanese authorities into Monday’s incident, in which its pilot took off from Osaka airport without clearance from air traffic controllers. The plane, which was carrying 245 passengers, took off without incident and landed safely in Shanghai, the China Daily reported. The latest incident comes after the privately-owned airline Juneyao said in August one of its pilots had refused to give up his landing slot to a passenger plane that issued a distress call to say it was running out of fuel. The pilot of the Qatar plane had alerted air traffic control at Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport that it had just five minutes’ worth of fuel left after it was diverted from Shanghai Pudong airport.
Mekong patrols to start
China and Southeast Asian neighbors would start coordinated patrols of the violence-troubled Mekong River by the middle of this month, the Ministry of Public Security said, after a meeting that also agreed to let Beijing send advisors to Myanmar and Laos. The announcement followed an uproar after 13 Chinese sailors were killed on the river in October when their two boats were attacked in the “Golden Triangle,” where the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet in a region notorious for drug smuggling. Nine Thai soldiers later turned themselves in over the killings.
Car bomb kills 10 at market
A car bomb in a market in confessionally mixed Diyala Province, north of Baghdad, killed 10 people and wounded at least 20 yesterday, medical and security officials said. “We counted 10 bodies and at least 20 wounded in the explosion of a car bomb parked near a vegetable market in Khalis,” an Iraqi army colonel said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The casualty toll was confirmed by a medic at the main hospital in the Diyala provincial capital, Baquba. “We received 10 bodies and admitted 25 wounded. Two policemen were among them,” said Firaz al-Dulaimi, a doctor. The deaths came just weeks before US troops are scheduled to a complete a withdrawal from Iraq that has raised concerns about the ability of Iraqi forces to maintain security.
Shots fired in Papua protest
Security forces opened fire at a separatist flag-raising ceremony in the restive Papua region yesterday, on the 50th anniversary of the region’s claim to independence. About 500 protesters had watched a traditional dance and started cheering and running in a large circle when the region’s Morning Star flag was raised on a bamboo pole, a reporter at the scene witnessed. About 120 police and soldiers, along with a military truck, stormed the crowd and opened fire after the main flag was raised. Police detained two protesters after kicking and punching them on the ground. Papuan youth activist leader Markus Haluk said two people had been shot, but a Mimika District deputy police chief denied the shootings, saying police merely fired warning shots into the air.