Flood-trapped miners freed
Two miners were rescued early yesterday after spending 10 days trapped underground by a flood, state news services reported, in a rare success for the accident-prone industry. A total of 42 workers were underground when water began pouring into the state-owned Zhengsheng coal mine on Sept. 28 and although 30 escaped, a dozen were stuck inside, Xinhua news agency said. Rescue efforts in Fenyang, Shanxi Province, have been continuing ever since, Xinhua added, citing the mining company’s rescue headquarters. The two miners were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening problems and searchers were still trying to reach the remaining 10. The pair’s fate stands in stark contrast to that of hundreds of miners every year. Last year, 1,384 people were killed in coal mining accidents, according to official figures.
Official fired for wedding
The country’s anti-graft watchdog has fired a village official who spent more than 1.6 million yuan (US$260,000) on a lavish three-day wedding for his son, state media said, the latest step in the government’s crackdown on waste and extravagance. Ma Linxiang (馬林祥), a deputy village head from the Beijing suburb of Qingheying, hosted the estimated 250-table wedding at an upmarket convention center during the week-long National Day holiday last week, newspapers reported. Ma told the Beijing News that the wedding was hosted by both families and that he “couldn’t stop” the bride’s family from splurging on the venue, as well as a troupe of performers that included two celebrities. Ma said he only paid for the two days of festivities in his village that cost 200,000 yuan and that he received a fraction of that back in gifts, the newspaper said. Ma also said luxury cars used at the wedding were only “borrowed.”
Pardon given to 56 prisoners
The government released 56 political prisoners, including some former ethnic minority separatists, in a presidential amnesty yesterday, according to government and activist sources. The prisoners were freed from at least a dozen detention centers across the country, a senior Ministry of Home Affairs official, who declined to be identified, told reporters. Bo Kyi, a former political prisoner who now works for the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, a body that monitors prisoners of conscience held or political activists facing charges, said that former members of ethnic minority rebel groups were among those freed. The move came just ahead of the annual ASEAN forum in Brunei. In a speech made during a trip to Britain earlier this year, President Thein Sein promised to free all political detainees by the end of the year.
North threatens US over drill
Pyongyang yesterday warned Washington of a “horrible disaster” and put its troops on alert over a massive joint naval drill involving a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier, and South Korean and Japanese vessels scheduled for this week. The warning came after the government and Washington last week signed a new joint strategy to counter the growing threat from the North. Pyongyang said the situation on the Korean Peninsula was “getting strained again” and warned the US that the closer its forces came “the more unpredictable disasters their actions will cause... The US will be wholly accountable for the unexpected horrible disaster to be met by its imperialist aggression forces.”