New headquarters infected
The bacteria that cause Legionnaire’s disease have been found throughout the territory’s brand new, US$670 million government headquarters. The checks were prompted after Education Secretary Michael Suen (孫明揚), 67, came down with the potentially fatal illness last month. Health authorities on Monday said that water samples taken from Suen’s new office’s bathroom found traces of legionella bacteria as high as 14 times above acceptable levels. Authorities say nine out of more than 31 water samples were contaminated, and that they are now disinfecting the building.
Sharks spotted interbreeding
Scientists yesterday hailed what they described as a world-first discovery of two shark species interbreeding, a never-before-seen phenomenon that could help them cope with warmer oceans. Lead researcher Jess Morgan of the University of Queensland said the mating of the local Australian black-tip shark with its global counterpart, the common black-tip, was an unprecedented discovery with implications for the entire shark world. “It’s very surprising because no one’s ever seen shark hybrids before, this is not a common occurrence by any stretch of the imagination,” Morgan said. “This is evolution in action.”
Would-be defectors killed
Troops shot dead three men who were trying to cross the border into China on Saturday, a Seoul activist said yesterday, as Pyongyang tightens border controls after the death of leader Kim Jong-il. The men, who were in their 40s, were crossing the Yalu River from the northern border city of Hyesan, said Do Hee-youn, who helps refugees from the North. “People waiting at the Chinese side across the river to help the three defect saw the scene. The guards took with them the bodies, which were lying on the ice,” Do said, citing sources in China’s border county of Changbai. Do said it was “very rare” for border guards immediately to open fire on refugees. “I’m afraid it will become much harder for North Koreans to defect for a while,” he said, adding the North’s authorities had spread word among people in the border city about the latest deaths. “They are trying to let people know that those trying to flee will be shot dead right away.”
Opposition vows trial rally
The opposition alliance yesterday vowed to rally 100,000 people outside the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Monday for the verdict in opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial, despite police threats to prevent any demonstration. The police warning underscores concerns about possible uproar among Anwar’s supporters if he is convicted of sodomizing a male former aide. He faces up to 20 years in prison if found guilty. Opposition leaders yesterday said they are working to get 100,000 people to rally in anticipation that Anwar will be convicted.
Three die from leptospirosis
At least three people in flood-hit areas in Mindanao have died from leptospirosis, a bacterial disease often spread by rodents, the government said. The health department reported 171 cases of the disease in northern Mindanao, where it is monitoring a “possible influx” of patients in hospitals, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in its 8am report yesterday. Tropical Storm Washi killed 1,257 people when it overflowed rivers and flooded coastal cities in the early hours of Dec. 17.