Traffic accident kills 51
A bus and truck collided and burst into flames yesterday, killing at least 51 people. The collision occurred in Ghazni Province on a highway that links Kabul with Kandahar. At least 51 of the 56 passengers on the bus were killed, said General Zarawar Zahid, the provincial police chief. “It is very sad,” he said. “When you see the bodies, some of them are not recognizable.” Zahid said the cause of the crash has not yet been determined, but he ruled out the possibility of an attack.
Robot being built for exams
Researchers are working on a robot they hope will be smart enough to ace entrance exams at the nation’s top university, which test everything from maths to foreign languages. “It has to analyze the exam questions and convert formulations and equations to a form that it can process before solving it through computer algebra,” said Hidenao Iwane from Fujitsu Laboratories, the Japanese information-technology giant’s research unit. Fujitsu and Japan’s National Institute of Informatics said the target is to have their robot score high marks on the exam for Tokyo University by 2021. Before then, they’re hoping the robot can sail through national entrance exams.
Lee confidant sentenced
One of president Lee Myung-bak’s most trusted confidants was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in jail yesterday after being convicted on corruption charges. The Seoul Central District Court also ordered Choi See-joong, former head of the state-run Korea Communications Commission, to pay 600 million won (more than US$535,000) in fines. The 75-year-old was found guilty of accepting 600 million won in bribes from a construction company in return for influence peddling. In court, Choi admitted to receiving the money, but denied he had exerted any influence. He was acquitted on charges of receiving a separate 200 million won bribe.
Lucky ticket found in trash
A man threw away a winning lottery ticket worth NZ$27 million (US$22.5 million) after reading the wrong results and thinking it was useless. It was not until the following day, when he heard the prize had not been claimed, that he searched for the ticket and found he had won. The man, in his 20s, had bought the ticket on a whim, spending money he had set aside for a haircut after he went to his hairdresser and found the shop closed. “I originally checked the results on my phone, but I must have got the wrong draw so I thought my ticket was a loser. I chucked it aside and thought ‘that was that’ and went to work,” he told Fairfax News yesterday. “It was only when there was so much talk in the town about the unclaimed prize that I thought it might pay to recheck the ticket.”
Alcohol poisoning rises
Police said on Thursday they had found a cache of bootleg spirits as the death toll from methanol poisoning rose to 18 in what experts called the worst wave of alcohol poisonings in three decades. About 500 bottles of “suspect unstamped alcohol” were found in a garage in the city of Zlin, 300km southeast of Prague, local police spokesman Petr Jaros told reporters. Police found the cache after they detained a distributor on Wednesday who “had mixed bootleg spirits in the garage, probably without knowing it was so dangerous,” local police chief Bedrich Koutny told the DNES daily. The death toll from the week-old wave of methanol poisoning cases rose to 18, media reports said. More than 20 people were in hospitals, some of them now blind and some in artificial comas. Health Minister Leos Heger warned he expected further casualties. On Wednesday, the government banned spirits sales at stands and mobile shops and threatened to impose blanket prohibition if the situation worsens. The country has the world’s second-highest adult alcohol intake, according to WHO data.