Emperor has heart exam
Emperor Akihito underwent an examination at a hospital yesterday after showing symptoms of restricted blood flow to his heart, amid increasing worries about his health. The 78-year-old monarch, accompanied by Empress Michiko, was admitted to the University of Tokyo Hospital in the morning and had an hour-long scan of his coronary arteries at midday, the Imperial Household Agency said. He was scheduled to stay at the hospital overnight for observation. In November, the emperor spent 19 days in hospital suffering from mild pneumonia. Akihito’s second son Prince Akishino in November suggested there needed to be a discussion about setting a retirement age for the titular head of state.
‘Rubber eggs’ cause scare
Authorities are investigating eggs that bounce after being boiled and could make men sterile, state media reported on Friday, in the latest food safety scare to hit the country. The eggs, being referred to in media and on the Internet as “rubber eggs” or “ping pong eggs,” are too hard to eat, raising suspicion they are fake, after appearing in “small numbers” in markets nationwide, Xinhua news agency said. “The investigation is designed to appease consumers’ concerns, after some suspected they bought artificial eggs made by traders seeking profits,” it reported. However, the eggs’ hardness could be natural, caused by hens consuming large amounts of food enriched with a compound called gossypol, which binds to protein in egg yolks, Xinhua said. “While gossypol normally exists in the residue of cotton seeds added to chicken feed as an extra protein source, large doses of the compound suppress sperm activity, as gossypol has been tested for use in male contraceptive pills,” it said.
Quake deaths rise to 39
The official death toll from an earthquake this week on the central island of Negros rose to 39 on Friday, with dozens feared dead, a disaster official said. Rescuers recovered five bodies in landslide-hit Negros four days after it was rattled by a magnitude 6.7 quake. The bodies were recovered from Guihulngan City and the nearby town of La Libertad, some of the worst affected areas. “We’re still looking for 66 people,” National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council head Benito Ramos said as he updated the official death toll to 39. Most of the missing are feared buried in landslides, he said. The death toll is expected to rise as hopes of recovering more people alive are fading even as about 2,000 soldiers intensify search operations. The council said it was providing food and other assistance to more than 88,000 quake survivors, including most of the 33,000 who have lost their homes and taken shelter at government-run evacuation centers.
Bus slams cars, 13 dead
A packed passenger bus slammed into several vehicles, killing more than a dozen people. El-Shinta radio said the bus driver appeared to have lost control when the brakes failed on Friday evening in the hilly region of Cisarua in West Java. The station quoted witnesses as saying that the bus hit eight cars plus a number of motorcycles and an electricity pole before plunging into a ravine. At least 13 bodies were recovered and more than 20 injured people were rushed to a nearby hospital, while residents working in the dark evacuated others who were wedged under the bus.