Truck driver jailed, fined
A truck driver was fined 2.7 million yuan (US$440,000) — 100 years’ average income for city dwellers — and jailed for three years after his overloaded vehicle caused a bridge to collapse, reports said yesterday. The sand-laden truck owned by Zhang Wenjun (張文軍) weighed 160 tonnes when he tried to cross a concrete bridge in Huairou on the outskirts of Beijing and the structure gave way, Xinhua news agency reported. The Intermediate People’s Court in the capital imposed the penalty on Zhang, Xinhua said, reducing his original fine of 15.6 million yuan levied by a lower court. According to official statistics, the average income for urban residents stood at 26,959 yuan last year. Zhang’s wife said the family depends solely on him and that he has a son, daughter and mother to support, adding that they cannot afford to pay the fine, the Beijing Times said.
Live baby almost cremated
A Chinese baby boy who had been declared dead was saved from being cremated alive when he started crying at a funeral parlor, media reported yesterday. The parents of the critically ill boy, who was less than one month old, had agreed to end his medical treatment at Anhui Provincial Children’s Hospital, hospital sources told Xinhua news agency. A death certificate was issued before the baby was sent to a funeral parlour in Hefei, the provincial capital — only for staff there to be alerted by crying on Wednesday. It was unclear how long he had been at the funeral parlor, or when his cremation had been due. The baby was immediately sent back to the hospital, the Beijing News reported yesterday. A doctor was suspended, a nursing worker laid off and an investigation launched into the incident.
Excited voter gives birth
A woman, excited to be voting for the first time, went into labor and gave birth at a polling station during elections. Parbati Bhandari said on Wednesday she was so keen to take part in polls on Tuesday to elect a constituent assembly that she walked 30 minutes to a polling station just six days before her due date. “As this was my first time, I was excited to vote, but about an hour after I reached the polling station I had sudden pain in my lower belly,” the 20-year-old housewife said by telephone. Fortunately, the polling booths were set up inside local government offices that included a small health center. Bhandari gave birth at the center to a healthy baby boy on Tuesday afternoon — then she cast her vote. Bhandari said she was “overwhelmed” to have become a mother on the same day as elections for the assembly charged with writing Nepal’s post-war constitution. Her husband has suggested she name their son “Nirwachan” (Nepali for election). “I was extremely happy to give birth on this historic day, but seeing a constitution completed ... will make me even happier,” she said.
Darwin’s frog may be extinct
A frog named after Charles Darwin has gone extinct because of a deadly amphibian skin disease, scientists believe. Darwin’s frogs were named after the father of evolution, who discovered them in 1834 in Chile during his voyage around the world on the ship HMS Beagle. They are notable for having evolved to escape predators by looking like a dead leaf and the fact that the males carry young tadpoles around inside their vocal sacs. Researchers think the northern Darwin’s frog, one of two species, has been killed off completely by a fungal disease called chytridiomycosis that infects their skin.