Thirty missing in storm
Thirty fishermen were missing and hundreds of travelers were stranded yesterday after Tropical Storm Mawar dumped heavy rains across the nation, forcing flight and ship cancelations. The storm blanketed large parts of the southern part of Luzon and central Visayas, with up to 25mm of rain an hour overnight, the state weather bureau said. At least two domestic flights were canceled, while more than 500 people were stranded in ports after the coast guard prevented passenger ferries from sailing, disaster relief agencies said. “Thirty fishermen have also gone missing from the island of Catanduanes after apparently getting caught at sea by the storm,” Benito Ramos, a civil defense official, said over local radio. He said search-and-rescue operations were under way, though the coast guard could not carry out an air search owing to bad visibility. About 20 storms slam into the country from the Pacific every year, causing heavy casualties and damage. Mawar is the first this year.
Tuesdays ‘pedestrians’ day’
The Himalayan kingdom is making every Tuesday “pedestrians’ day” with motorists banned from town centers. The first day of forcing car owners to walk, cycle or take public transport will be on June 5 to coincide with World Environment Day, Kuensel newspaper reported on its Web site. “People will be compelled to start the day early and plan ahead to be in time for meetings and appointments because of the longer time it would take to get there,” the newspaper said of the “wonderful plan.” The nation has few large urban areas, but traffic has steadily increased in the capital, Thimphu, where a sharp increase in SUVs and other cars has led to unprecedented traffic jams on its narrow streets.
Court overrules religion
A court ordered the parents of a cancer-stricken child to put aside their religious beliefs and allow her life-saving treatment including a blood transfusion, reports said yesterday. The four-year-old’s parents had refused the transfusion because it was against the teachings of their Jehovah’s Witness faith, but South Australia’s Supreme Court upheld an application by the hospital forcing them to relent. Justice Richard White ruled that it was “appropriate and indeed necessary” for the girl, who was diagnosed with leukemia on Monday, to receive a blood transfusion. “I’m satisfied that there are no alternatives to the provision of a blood transfusion,” White said, according to the Adelaide Advertiser newspaper. “Without a blood transfusion there’s a very high prospect [the girl] will die,” he added. Doctors had told the court that the girl had just weeks to live if she were not treated and could suffer heart, brain and kidney damage even if she survived without a transfusion. Her father wept as he spoke of the family’s adherence to “strict Bible principles.” “We want the best possible treatment for [her] and the hospital are doing a great job. The only thing we don’t consent to is the issue of blood,” he said.
An environmentalist says three endangered Sumatran elephants have been poisoned and found dead within a palm oil plantation in the East Aceh District. Rono Wiranata from the FAKTA non-government group said workers at the state-run plantation were believed to have placed the poison on palm fruits. The dead three and five-year-old elephants were found on Thursday in separate locations. Wiranata cited plantation workers in saying more elephants may die from the poison. Five endangered Sumatran elephants have been found poisoned in Aceh Province since April. Fewer than 3,000 Sumatran elephants are left in the wild. Environmentalists say they could be extinct within three decades unless they are protected.