Flood fatalities reach 780
The authorities say the death toll from floods that devastated a vast swathe of northern and central parts of the country has reached 780 confirmed dead with three people still missing. The Disaster Prevention and Mitigation department said on its Web site yesterday that more than 2 million people are still effected by flooding in five provinces north and west of Bangkok. The capital itself is dry. The nation’s worst floods in half a century also destroyed millions of tonnes of crops and badly damaged industrial production. The World Bank has estimated the damage at US$45 billion and recovery and reconstruction needs at US$25 billion. The National Social and Economic Development Board has slashed its economic growth forecast to 1.5 percent.
Run on Kim Jong-il trinkets
The death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il earlier this month sparked a run on enamel lapel pins bearing his image in the Chinese city of Dandong, street vendors said yesterday. Braving freezing temperatures along the Yalu River, which separates the two countries, sales of badges bearing the likeness of Kim Jong-il surged after his death on Dec. 17. One vendor said she sold 50 to 60 lapel pins every day during the 13-day mourning period, which ended on Thursday with a massive memorial service for the late leader, compared with just two or three a day before his death.
Robber hides in consulate
Police arrested a man accused of robbing a Sydney bar and then fleeing to the grounds of the Chinese consulate, sparking a tense manhunt. New South Wales Police assistant commissioner Mark Murdoch said police were chasing the man yesterday when he scaled the fence surrounding the nearby consulate grounds. Murdoch said the man and police traded gunfire, but no one was hit. Police shut down roads around the consulate and secured the complex before finding the man in a building outside the consulate grounds several hours later, where he was arrested.
Dozens of dogs rescued
Police in the north of the country said they rescued dozens of dogs on their way to a slaughterhouse. Police Superintendent Ronaldo Gayo said 60 dogs were found alive, but 12 had died of suffocation by the time police found them inside a van. The dogs’ snouts and feet were bound by plastic cord. Gayo said the van’s driver and another man were arrested and escorted to their destination — a slaughterhouse inside a sprawling pig and poultry farm in San Carlos Township in Pangasinan Province. The slaughterhouse’s owner and workers fled when police arrived slightly before midnight on Wednesday.
Chinese captain indicted
Prosecutors have indicted the captain of a Chinese fishing boat for illegally operating in Japanese waters, a local official said yesterday. The Nagasaki District Public Prosecutors’ Office finalized its case against Zhong Jinyin (鍾進音), 39, the official said, following his Dec. 20 arrest near islands off the southwest of Japan. It was not clear when Zhong would appear in court. The arrest, the second in the area in less than two months, took place after a six-hour pursuit. Officials found coral and tools on the boat. Arrests of straying Chinese fishermen are increasingly common and usually pass off without much of a hitch, but have occasionally flared into international incidents.