Plane missing in jungle
A small chartered plane has gone missing on Indonesian Borneo with four people on board, including an Australian, officials said yesterday. “The Cessna aircraft was carrying four people. The captain was Indonesian and an Australian, Peter John Elliott, was on board,” National Search and Rescue Agency spokesman Gagah Prakoso told reporters. “They left the city of Samarinda to conduct a short surveying flight in East Kalimantan province on Friday, but they didn’t return that evening.” The aircraft is owned by the the Indonesian company Intan Angkasa Air Services, Prakoso said. It was chartered by the Australian passenger’s Perth-based mining company, Elliot Geophysics International, which specializes in mineral, oil and coal exploration, according to its Web site. A team of 20 rescuers are searching through thick jungle, while eight are conducting an aerial search by helicopter and plane, Prakoso said.
Floods displace thousands
Authorities say 85,000 people have fled their homes after the worst flooding in years submerged hundreds of thousands of hectares of rice fields. Government emergency official Soe Tun says heavy rains over the last few weeks caused the inundation which has primarily affected the southern delta region. Soe Tun yesterday said that 70,000 people had fled their homes in the delta and were being housed at 219 emergency relief centers that have been set up at schools and monasteries. He says another 15,000 people are displaced elsewhere in the country. The delta region was devastated in 2008 by Cyclone Nargis, which killed about 130,000 people. Soe Tun says no casualties have been confirmed during this month’s flooding.
Man punches crocodile
A construction worker was bitten by a crocodile during a toilet break in a river in Malaysian Borneo, but fought off the huge reptile and escaped with his life. Pai punched the 2m crocodile in the eye after it bit him just above his right buttock and, despite being in incredible pain and soaked in blood, managed to summon help, reports said yesterday. The attack happened on Friday, when the 32-year-old decided to take his chances in the river in Sarawak state despite knowing it was infested with crocodiles. The laborer, an Indonesian who works at a nearby construction site, had just finished relieving himself when the animal bit him from behind. “Fortune favored me when the crocodile let go after I punched it in the eye,” he was quoted by tabloid Harian Metro as saying. “After being freed from the jaws of the crocodile, I found extraordinary strength to run and call for help even though my waist was extremely painful.”
Journalist’s body returned
The body of Mika Yamamoto, the veteran journalist killed while covering the civil war in Syria, has returned from the Middle Eeast. Her coffin was unloaded from a Turkish Airlines aircraft yesterday as the pilot and crew saluted her, and airport officials observed a moment of silence. Yamamoto’s two sisters, as well as colleague Kazutaka Sato, were aboard the same flight from Istanbul. Yamamoto and Sato, both with independent TV news provider The Japan Press, were traveling with the Free Syrian Army in the northwestern city of Aleppo on Monday when Yamamoto was fatally wounded in crossfire between rebels and Syrian government forces. Sato said the 45-year-old’s body will be handed over to police for an autopsy for further investigation.
Prince Saud recovering
Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal may leave hospital in a few days after a recent operation, the royal court said late on Friday, denying reports he was critically ill. “As a result of the improving health of Prince Saud ... he has come off the breathing apparatus normally used after operations like the one he successfully underwent. God willing, he will leave hospital in the next few days,” the statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency said. Prince Saud, a son of the late King Faisal and a nephew of King Abdullah, was appointed in March 1975 and is the world’s longest-serving foreign minister.
Businessman calms row
A Chinese businessman whose purchase of a top Burgundy estate has triggered an angry backlash moved on Friday to calm the row by promising extensive investment in his new acquisition. Louis Ng, CEO for Macau tycoon Stanley Ho’s (何鴻燊) gambling empire, pledged via a representative that he would be investing significant sums in restoring the 12th-century Chateau de Gevrey Chambertin and in upgrading the estate’s wine production. He was born and lives in Hong Kong, but also holds Portuguese citizenship. He acquired the property and two hectares of vineyards in one of Burgundy’s top appellations for 8 million euros (US$10 million) earlier this year. The sale has been attacked by a group of local winemakers who had failed in their own bid to buy the estate, as well as by France’s far-right Front National, who believe the state should have intervened to keep the historic building and its vineyards in French hands.
Trapped hippo dies
A hippo who wandered into a swimming pool at a game reserve died on Friday as a game capture team tried to extract him. Wildlife rescue expert Simon Prinsloo said the young hippopotamus died even though he had been pouring water on the animal with a bucket first and then through a hose to keep it hydrated. The plight of the stranded hippo captured the attention of many in South Africa. Live TV coverage showed the hippo spout water in the pool, but the lighthearted story became somber when the hippo became inert and appeared lifeless on Friday morning. The hippo went into the pool on Tuesday at the Monate Conservation Lodge near Modimolle, a small town north of Johannesburg. He was probably chased away from his pod of seven hippos in a nearby river by an older male, according to wildlife experts. The swimming pool was big enough for the hippo to swim in and submerge himself, but it had no steps and there was no way the animal could get out on his own. Rescuers drained water from the pool in the rescue effort and a crane was positioned to hoist the 1-tonne animal.
Fire burns outside Athens
A large forest fire broke out early yesterday on the northeastern outskirts of Athens, officials and reports said, threatening an army camp in the vicinity. “The fire is moving through a wooded ravine and is burning across a large front,” Nikos Peppas, the deputy mayor of the municipality of Dionysos, told state TV NET. The fire broke out before dawn near the town of Afidnes. The state-run Athens News Agency said a force of 100 firefighters, four aircraft and two helicopters had been dispatched to deal with the fire. The same area had also been ravaged by fires in 2009.
Bride dies in wedding gown
A woman drowned after being pulled under the water by a strong current while she was having photos taken in her wedding dress near waterfalls, Quebec police said on Friday. Sergeant Ronald McInnis of the Quebec provincial police said her body was recovered about four hours after she disappeared under the water. Police had originally said she fell from a cliff and tumbled into the waterfall, but later corrected that. The woman was married on June 9 and was having photos taken in her dress with the picturesque Dorwin Falls as a backdrop in Rawdon, north of Montreal. While she was being photographed with her feet in the water the dress became saturated with water, leaving her unable to stay above water, police said. The photographer and a bystander tried to rescue her, but were unable to because of the weight of the dress, McInnis said. She slipped under the water and her body was later recovered in a basin about 30m away, he said.
Woman guilty in shop attack
A western New York woman has been convicted of punching a 70-year-old Walmart cashier during a dispute over a receipt on Christmas Eve. Jacquetta Simmons was found guilty of felony assault by a jury on Friday. The 27-year-old faces from a sentence of between two and seven years in prison under New York’s Granny Law, which makes it a felony to intentionally injure someone 65 or older if the defendant is at least 10 years younger than the victim. Prosecutors say Simmons knocked Grace Suozzi down with a blow to the face while Suozzi was checking her receipt. Simmons’ lawyer argued she swung her arm but did not intend to hit Suozzi.
Police seize cash smugglers
Police have detained 18 people, including a Mexican policeman, posing as journalists while trying to enter Honduras with millions of dollars in cash, the country’s police chief said on Friday. The group was detained on Monday as it tried to cross into Nicaragua with the cash in six vehicles, Nicaragua’s national police commissioner Aminta Granera told a news conference. “There’s certainly no less than US$7 million in the stashes we found hidden in the six Chevrolet pickup trucks,” said Granera, flanked by police chiefs from Colombia, Mexico and the Caribbean who had gathered in Managua for a regional crime-fighting conference. Later on Friday, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said at the conference: “They were very well disguised and came with all the paperwork.” He added that more funding and better regional cooperation is needed to confront criminal organizations operating in Central America. Granera said the group had posed as reporters from Televisa, Mexico’s largest broadcaster.
Air guitar prize awarded
Shaggy bearded “Nordic Thunder” has outmimed his US compatriot “Airistotle” at playing the air guitar to become this year’s world champion in northern Finland. Justin Howard from Chicago narrowly beat Matt Burns of New York late on Friday in the final of the international contest that has been held in the northern Finnish city of Oulu since 1996. Dutchman Theun de Jong finished third in the field of 18 finalists that included competitors from Japan, Britain, Russia, the Czech Republic and neighboring Estonia. The 17th Air Guitar World Championship is one of several zany annual events in Finland, which include an international cellphone throwing contest, wife carrying and swamp football.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year