Swimmers dispute islands
A team yesterday began a 230km relay swim from an eastern port to the Dokdo islands, in Seoul’s latest assertion of its sovereignty over the outcrops claimed by Japan. The team led by singer Kim Jang-hoon plans to complete the swim on Liberation Day tomorrow, which marks the ending in 1945 of Japan’s 35-year colonial rule over Korea. The territorial row over the Seoul-controlled islands, known as Dokdo in Korean and Takeshima in Japan, has simmered for decades. Kim jumped in the sea off Uljin in a full-body swimsuit after a ceremony with about 40 university students and dozens of others, Yonhap news agency reported. The students, all members of a swimming club at the Korea National Sport University, will take part in the 55-hour-long relay led by Kim, it said.
Fire near historic site
Fire officials in Seoul say a large blaze at a construction site near a 600-year-old palace has killed at least four workers and injured about 20. They say Gyeongbok palace was not damaged by yesterday’s fire, which filled Seoul’s central district with smoke. Seoul Metropolitan Fire and Disaster official Kim Byung-ro says the workers died after inhaling toxic smoke. One of the injured is in critical condition. Kim says the blaze started when a spark from construction at the site of a national art museum landed in combustible material. About 170 firefighters extinguished the fire in about an hour.
Police hunt for killer
Beijing has launched a huge manhunt for a fugitive armed robber accused of killing nine people, most recently a police officer, an official and state media said yesterday. The 42-year-old suspect, dubbed the “most dangerous man in China” by the country’s state-run media, targets people withdrawing money from banks and is reported to have been on the run since 2004. The China Daily said he shot a woman dead outside a bank in Chongqing on Friday morning, injuring another two people, before killing a police officer later that day. “Large numbers” of police were combing a mountain in Chongqing where the suspect, Zhou Kehua, was believed to be hiding after the Friday killings, the paper said. Zhou’s crime spree began when he shot and killed a woman during a 70,000 yuan (US$11,000) bank heist in Chongqing in 2004, Xinhua news agency reported. Police believe he is also responsible for shootings in Changsha, Hunan Province, and, Nanjing.
Ban tries to ease tensions
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday he is seeking a way to ease tensions between North Korea and the South, and promised more help to Pyongyang to recover from deadly floods. Ban, a former South Korean foreign minister, said inter-Korean relations had soured recently. The North is grappling with the after-effects of floods that killed 169 people and left 400 missing, according to Pyongyang’s official figures. Its state media said floods and torrential rain between late June and the end of last month also made 212,200 people homeless.
US Navy ship hiuts tanker
A US Navy guided missile destroyer was left with a gaping hole on one side after it collided with an oil tanker early on Sunday just outside the strategic Strait of Hormuz. The collision left a 3m-by-3m breach in the starboard side of USS Porter. No one was injured on either vessel, the US Navy said in a statement.