H7N9 virus kills four
Four more people have died from a new strain of bird flu, bringing to 31 the number of deaths from the H7N9 virus, with the number of infections rising by two to 129, health authorities said. Among the deaths, two occurred in Jiangsu Province, one in Zhejiang and another in Anhui, authorities said on Monday. The government did not provide more details of the victims. Health authorities said two new infections were reported in Fujian Province. Meanwhile, the head of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the current strain of bird flu cannot spark a pandemic in its current form, but that there is no guarantee it will not mutate and cause a serious pandemic.
Large fleet to Spratlys
Beijing has sent one of its largest recorded fishing fleets to disputed islands in the South China Sea, the China Daily reported yesterday, amid tensions over Beijing’s assertion of its claims in the region. A flotilla including 30 fishing vessels set sail on Monday for the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) — which are also claimed by other countries, including Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines — the report said. The fleet, which includes two large transport and supply ships, left Hainan Province for a 40-day trip to the region, the report said.
Metallica guitar surrendered
The heavy metal-loving governor of Jakarta has surrendered a guitar that was a gift from US band Metallica to anti-corruption authorities, an official said yesterday. A beaming Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo appeared on TV last week strumming the maroon bass guitar given to him by Metallica’s Robert Trujillo, which was autographed and bore the words “Giving Back! .. Keep Playin’ That Cool Funky Bass!” However, the powerful Corruption Eradication Commission said that Widodo, widely considered clean in a notoriously graft-ridden country, had now handed the gift to them. “We will check if there is any conflict of interest or if there was an exchange of favors,” commission spokesman Johan Budi said.
Tiger abuse sparks outrage
A tiger park has sought to quell public anger after images of holidaymakers sitting astride a strapped-down cub prompted outrage online, state media said yesterday. Pictures taken at a Siberian tiger park in Jilin Province showed visitors posing for photos while sitting on top of a tiger cub tied to a wooden table, the Global Times reported. Video footage has also emerged from another animal park in Zhejiang Province, showing a tiger strapped to a bench while a man sat on top of it, bouncing up and down and slapping the tiger’s head. The incidents provoked outrage on the popular social networking site Sina Weibo.
Daredevil scales bridge
A man in Saint Petersburg climbed one of its lifting bridges before evading police by plunging into the water, in a death-defying stunt that stopped traffic, officials said on Monday. Police in the city said they have launched a probe as photos of the unidentified daredevil, holding a red flare in one hand and hanging on to the railing with the other as the Troitsky Bridge swung upwards, went viral on the Internet. Photographer Nikolia Gontar, who posted the pictures on Facebook, identified the culprit as a young stuntman who goes by the name of Mustang Wanted and is known for hanging off skyscrapers and cranes by his bare hands.