Rival parties vie for lead
Two traditional rival parties are vying for the lead in the constituent assembly election, according to partial results announced yesterday. The results showed the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) leading with 41 seats, followed by the Nepali Congress with 32. However, a trailing Maoist party, with eight seats, has refused appeals to reverse its decision to boycott the vote counting. Party leaders have demanded that the counting be stopped and an independent probe launched because of alleged irregularities. “We have formally filed our complaint with the Election Commission,” United Communist Party of Nepal Maoists spokesman Agni Sapkota said. The Maoist party says that ballot boxes went missing for hours, were switched or disappeared while being transported to counting centers. Independent election observers, including former US president Jimmy Carter, said the elections were fair, honest and free of any irregularities. Final results from Tuesday’s vote to elect 601 assembly members are not expected until late next week, as ballot boxes were still being transported by helicopters and even on foot by porters to counting centers in the mountainous country.
Cocaine found on beach
Four backpacks stuffed with cocaine worth ￥4.8 billion (US$48 million) were found on a beach — the biggest amount ever discovered in the country, local media reported. The backpacks, containing 80kg of the drug wrapped in waterproof tape, were found by local residents in Yokosuka on Tuesday, the Asahi newspaper reported, citing local police. The find is the biggest by value in Japan, public broadcaster NHK said. Yokosuka, home to a US Navy base, is about 50km south of Tokyo.
Oil pipe blast kills several
Local authorities say an oil pipe explosion in an eastern city has killed six people and severely injured seven others. The district government of Huangdao in the seaside port of Qingdao said an oil pipe near a shopping mall broke yesterday morning and that the rupture caught fire during repairs. It says the incident remains under investigation. Authorities assured the public that the blast was well away from any petrochemical plants of military facilities. The pipeline is owned by China’s largest oil refiner, Sinopec.
Workers die by lightning
Eight construction workers were killed when lightning struck their tent northeast of Johannesburg, police said yesterday. “There were 14 people in a tent when the lighting struck. Eight of them died and six were hospitalized,” Mpumalanga Province police spokesman Leonard Hlathi said. The lightning storm struck the tent in Emalahleni on Wednesday evening and the dead included migrant workers from Mozambique and Lesotho, he added.
Jumbo at wrong airport
A Boeing 747 Dreamlifter made a risky takeoff without incident on Thursday from a small Kansas airport after accidentally landing there the night before. The giant cargo plane, one of just four in the world, was on its way from New York’s Kennedy International Airport to McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas, when it landed by mistake on Wednesday night at nearby Colonel James Jabara Airport. The pilot was surprised when an air traffic controller told him he had just landed at Jabara, not McConnell. The small general aviation airport, with its 1859m runway, is not designed to handle jumbo jets.