Policeman shoots colleagues
A policeman in southern Phatthalung province shot dead six fellow officers before turning the gun on himself after a drinking session in a police canteen turned sour, local police said yesterday. The incident, which also left one policeman severely wounded, took place late on Monday in a border patrol police camp about 840km south of the capital Bangkok. “Seven men were found dead including the gunman and one man has critical injuries,” Phatthalung police investigator Lieutenant Colonel Prasit Singhapol said by telephone. Prasit said the motive was still unknown, but the eight men had been drinking together in the canteen where six of the bodies were found. “At this stage we think it’s a personal conflict,” he said. The gunman’s body was found about 200m from the scene after he killed himself with the same assault rifle he used against his colleagues, Prasit said.
Mount Lokon erupts
One of the country’s most active volcanoes erupted yesterday, spewing clouds of ash and panicking villagers, but no evacuation has been ordered so far, a government vulcanologist said. The first eruption at Mount Lokon was at 3:07am, followed by two more bursts within minutes, Farid Bina said from a monitoring post near the volcano on the island of Sulawesi. “The eruption was heard as far as 5km away, causing panic among villagers living close to the volcano,” he said, adding that winds blew volcanic ash to villages up to 5km to the east and northeast. “Two villages with about 10,000 people each have been affected by the ash, which stopped later in the morning,” he added. More than 5,200 people were evacuated to temporary shelters when the 1,580m volcano erupted in July, sending huge clouds of ash as high as 3,500m into the sky.
GPS rival launched
A rival to the US global positioning system (GPS) network has started providing services throughout the nation and the surrounding area. The director of the satellite navigation system office, Ran Chengqi (冉承其), told reporters yesterday that the Beidou navigation system is offering services including positioning, navigation routes and time. Ran did not specify who the target users are, but he said Beidou would be available to local and foreign companies for research and development. Beidou will be available to much of the Asian-Pacific region by the end of next year and worldwide by 2020. Beijing, and especially its military, have long been wary of relying on the US’ dominant GPS network, fearing that Washington might take the system offline in a conflict or an emergency.
TEPCO asks for more aid
Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) yesterday asked for an extra US$8.5 billion in aid from a government-backed fund to help it compensate families affected by the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant crisis. The request, if granted, would bring the total amount of aid the utility has sought from the Nuclear Damage Compensation Facilitation Corp up to ￥1.7 trillion (US$21 billion) from a previous ￥1.01 trillion. TEPCO said the increase results from government moves to widen eligibility criteria for claimants and to alter the evacuation zone restrictions around the stricken plant, which was hit by the huge waves of March 11. The decisions have increased both the amount of compensation the firm is liable for and the number of people entitled to claim, it said.