Flash flood kills dozens
A flash flood swept through villages in a mountainous area of the north on Friday, killing at least 27 people, authorities said. It was the second major flood reported this week in the north. Abdul Jabar Taqwa, the governor of Takhar Province, said floodwaters broke through a dam early on Friday, washed down a valley and damaged several villages in Ishkamish District. “It was a very powerful flood. It hit around midnight,” Taqwa said. “Dozens of villages have been hit. I’m worried that the death toll will go up.” Rescuers have been trying to reach the site, but vehicles can only be driven to within a six-hour walk of the area, he said.
Heavy rains, hail kill 19
Hail and torrential rains pouring down in the northwest have killed 19 people and left 45 others missing. The official Xinhua news agency said on Friday the stormy weather disrupted power and communications, destroyed farmland and a highway in Minxian County of Gansu Province. Xinhua says nearly 2,000 people were evacuated after the storm battered the county on Thursday evening.
Families want bodies found
The grieving families of 29 men killed in a mine explosion 18 months ago vowed on Friday to fight for the bodies to be returned after the new mine owner revealed no recovery was planned. Solid Energy, which is buying the Pike River Coal mine, said it would not put more lives at risk attempting to bring out the dead men. “The only safe, feasible and credible option for recovering the men’s bodies will be as part of a future commercial mining operation. This will take some years to develop and implement,” Solid Energy chief executive Don Elder said. The families of the miners — 24 New Zealanders, two Australians, two Britons and a South African — were irate after Elder told them there was only a 5 to 10 percent likelihood of a successful recovery.
PM speaks on gay marriage
US President Barack Obama’s support for same-sex marriage has drawn New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to break his silence on the issue and declare he is also not opposed to gay marriage. However, Key said in a statement on Friday the issue is not on his government’s agenda. “I am not personally opposed to gay marriage,” he said. “It is possible that parliament may consider a member’s bill at some stage, but it is not on the government’s agenda.” When Key was pressed on the issue of gay marriage before the general election last November he fudged his reply saying the government did not see a change as a priority. New Zealand currently allows same-sex civil unions which enjoy the same rights and obligations as a marriage involving opposite-sex couples.
Fighter jet crashes
A fighter jet crashed in the south of the country on Friday while on routine training, an air force official said, but the pilot ejected safely and there were no casualties on the ground. The Mirage-V plane took off from the Pakistan Air Force’s Masroor Base in Karachi and crashed near the town of Sonmiani in southwestern Baluchistan Province, air force spokesman Squadron Leader Mohammad Nadeem said. Sonmiani is around 50km west of Karachi. “The pilot ejected successfully and safely,” the spokesman said, adding the cause of the accident would be determined after an investigation.
Amnesty defend cartoonist