Jeep crash kills at least 14
At least 14 pilgrims were killed when a jeep carrying them to a sacred Hindu site in the south swerved off a highway and fell 100m into a stream below, police said yesterday. The jeep was taking the devotees to Ridi, a pilgrimage town in Palpa District, 120km west of Kathmandu, late on Friday when the driver lost control, police spokesman Rajendra Singh Bhandari said. “Locals came to know about the accident in the morning and informed the police. The death toll is likely to rise as the police rescue team is searching for bodies,” he said. Ridi, which lies at the confluence of the Ridi Khola and Kali Gandaki rivers, is visited by thousands of Hindus who bathe, worship at temples and cremate their dead. District police inspector Purshotam Pandey said the pilgrims were carrying the remains of a relative to place them in the waters when their jeep crashed.
Minister proposes toilet fund
A top minister has proposed projects worth US$130 million to rid the country of the scourge of open defecation and clean up a rail system he described as the world’s “largest open toilet,” reports said on Friday. Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh told a meeting in New Delhi on Thursday that the nation, where 130 million households are without a latrine, accounted for 60 percent of the global volume of open defecation. “This is a matter of great shame, anguish, sorrow and actually anger,” Ramesh, who is also responsible for the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, was quoted as saying by the Times of India. The minister unveiled a proposal to spend 1.5 billion rupees (US$28 million) to provide 100,000 bio-toilets to villages across India in the next two years. He also proposed a 5 billion rupee project to replace the open-hole toilets on the 50,000 coaches that ply the vast railway network with bio-toilets over the next five years. Carrying 11 million passengers a day, Indian Railways “is really the largest open toilet in the world,” Ramesh said, adding that his ministry would be willing to pick up half the cost of the toilet refit.
Alleged drug duo face death
An Australian woman and a Nigerian man have been arrested after drugs were discovered in the car they were driving in the capital Kuala Lumpur, police said yesterday. Police arrested the duo after stopping their car and finding 1kg of methamphetamine on July 17, federal narcotics chief Noor Rashid Ibrahim said. The two were in custody and being investigated for drug trafficking. Noor Rashid did not immediately have further details. Drug trafficking carries a mandatory death sentence by hanging, where hundreds of people are on death row, mostly for drug offenses. Anyone found to be in possession of at least 50 grams of methamphetamine is considered a trafficker.
King helps ease traffic
The king wants to help ease Bangkok’s legendary traffic jams and other inconveniences — and that means a few changes to the treatment of royals on the roads. On Friday, authorities distributed 25,000 handbooks to police and other officials with guidelines for directing royal convoys and new protocol for royal appearances in public places. The manual overturns several practices that had quietly irritated the public in a country where open criticism of the royal family is taboo. Among the new rules: shopping malls do not have to shut if a royal family member shows up, and oncoming traffic will be permitted on the road opposite a royal convoy.