Man ‘too fat to stay’
An obese South African man has been told he is too fat to live in the country despite shedding 30kg since he moved there six years ago, a report said yesterday. Albert Buitenhuis — who now weighs 130kg — and his wife, Marthie, said they face deportation after an application to renew their work visas was rejected because of his weight. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) cited the demands his obesity could place on health services and said their medical assessors deemed Albert no longer “had an acceptable standard of health.” The couple said they moved from South Africa to the main South Island city of Christchurch six years ago when Albert weighed 160kg and their annual work visas were renewed without any problem. An INZ spokesman said Buitenhuis was rejected because his obesity put him at “significant risk” of complications including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and obstructive sleep apnoea.
‘People smugglers’ arrested
Police detained four Indonesians allegedly involved in arranging an Australian-bound refugee boat which sank earlier this week, killing at least 15 people, a local police official said yesterday. The four men were arrested on Wednesday and Thursday in two nearby cities after the boat sank off the southwestern coast of Java Island on Tuesday, killing among them six children and a pregnant woman, Cianjur city police boss Dedy Kusuma Bakti said. “The four helped arrange the boat trip. They are part of a people-smuggling syndicate. Some of them had organized several boat trips to Australia,” he said, adding that they could be charged with people smuggling, which carries a jail sentence of between five and 15 years under the country’s immigration law. The number on the overloaded boat was unclear. Police have said about 200 people were aboard, but an asylum seeker has said 250 people made the perilous journey.
Floods, mudslides strike
At least 21 people have been killed and four reported missing in floods and mudslides that hit a province where at least 95 others died this week in twin earthquakes, state media reported yesterday. Floods, landslides and rockfalls have been reported since Thursday in the northwestern province of Gansu following heavy rains, the official Xinhua news agency said, quoting the local government. Several villages in the province were cut off, with power and communication lines down and roads blocked, the government said. In one village, named Rongguang, more than half of the houses had been destroyed in the disasters, a rescuer said. Xinhua said 30,000 people had been evacuated, with more heavy rain forecast.
Biden, wife get orchid honor
US Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, received a customary honor on Friday — an orchid named after them — as they paid an official visit to the tropical city state. The city has long used orchid-naming to recognize international leaders, with high-profile political figures including former South African president Nelson Mandela and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher having blossoms at Singapore’s National Orchid Garden. The Bidens were feted at a ceremony at the 63-hectare garden, where a new hybrid orchid, Dendrobium Joe and Jill Biden, was named in their honor. The vice president signed a symbolic “birth certificate” officially naming the orchid.