Festival blast victim dies
A 44-year-old woman who was severely burned in an explosion at a fireworks festival three two days ago became the first person to die from the accident on Saturday, police said. Hiromi Takeuchi was one of 60 people injured in the blast that ripped through food and drink stalls at an annual festival outside Kyoto. Police earlier said 18 were seriously injured with Takeuchi and an eight-year-old girl in critical condition. Police suspect that the explosion occurred when a vendor at one of stalls opened the cap of a gasoline container to refill an electric generator, press reports said.
Massive ‘yaba’ haul seized
Authorities yesterday seized about 980,000 illegal methamphetamine pills worth almost US$6 million stashed in a truck thought to be heading to Bangkok from the north, police said. Acting on a tipoff, narcotics police and military officials set up roadblocks in Chiang Rai Province. They found packs of the drug, known as yaba, hidden in the roof of a pick-up truck. “It is quite a big haul — another big haul — almost a million tablets,” deputy provincial police chief Virat Sumanaphan said. He said the drugs would cost up to 200 baht (US$6) per pill in Bangkok. Three men and a woman, all from Chiang Mai Province, were arrested on suspicion of drug smuggling.
The government yesterday ordered a temporary stay of executions following objections from President Asif Ali Zardari and rights groups, days before they were due to resume after a five-year moratorium. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government in June scrapped the moratorium on the death penalty in a bid to crack down on criminals and Islamist militants, but yesterday it announced that executions, which had been scheduled to begin this week, would be stayed temporarily following objections from Zardari. The stay would last until Zardari returns from abroad to discuss the matter with Sharif, a statement said. “In due deference to the wish of the president, it has been desired that all executions of death sentences may be held in abeyance till the discussion takes place,” it said.
Policeman probed for abuse
Authorities have begun investigating a policeman who grabbed a seven-month-old baby girl from her parents and threw her on the ground, fracturing her skull, state media said yesterday. Guo Zengxi, a policeman in Linzhou, Henan Province, was on his way to a karaoke bar after drinking with friends one evening last month when he saw a man holding a baby accompanied by his wife, the Legal Evening News reported. After betting with his friends that the child was just a doll, Guo touched her face then grabbed her from her father, before lifting her up and smashing her on the ground, the report said. The baby suffered three cranial fractures and was taken to hospital, the daily said. She will be sent to Beijing for further treatment, according to local authorities. Guo, who was off-duty at the time, received 15 days of disciplinary confinement, but no additional punishment. Details of the case generated outrage on social media sites on Saturday, with authorities promising to act. “All officials will handle the case according to law and disciplines and have no leniency,” Linzhou city officials said in a statement. Last month, a two-year-old Chinese girl was thrown to the ground by a man in a row with her mother over parking. She died a few days later, provoking outrage and sadness among Chinese netizens.