Cyclone kills at least three
Three people were killed and six missing after a cyclone hit the Pacific island, officials said yesterday. Tropical Cyclone Lusi swept across the country this week and damage assessments were still coming in from remote areas, the National Disaster Management Office said. Office director Shadrack Welegtabit said three deaths had been confirmed and a search was underway for six missing women and children. “A search and rescue team was deployed yesterday [on Thursday] and we are now waiting to hear from them,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Lusi has since traveled south and was losing intensity yesterday as it approached New Zealand.
Aussies denied hangman job
Two Australians have applied in vain for the nation’s hangman job after the island nation’s last official executioner got upset on seeing the gallows for the first time and quit. “Two Australians have sent e-mails to one of our departments saying that they are interested,” commissioner general of prisons Chandrarathna Pallegama said on Thursday. “One is a system administrator and the other had not mentioned the job he is doing,” he said. “We have not called the applications, moreover we do not have any provisions to recruit foreigners.” Pallegama said on Tuesday the last hangman, who was third most qualified among 176 applicants for the job, quit after getting upset at seeing the gallows. Two hangmen chosen late last year failed to show up for work.
Police arrest ‘diary vandal’
A man was arrested yesterday on suspicion of vandalizing copies of Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl in Tokyo libraries, police said. More than 300 copies of the diary, or publications containing biographies of Anne Frank, Nazi persecution of Jews and related material had been torn at many public libraries. Police yesterday did not identify the suspect, whom they said has admitted to the vandalism. Authorities often refrain from naming a suspect when there are questions over the individual’s mental competence. “The suspect is a 36-year-old unemployed man who lives in Tokyo,” the Tokyo metropolitan police department said.
Earthquake injures 17
A strong magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck off the southern coast early yesterday, injuring 17 people, reports said, as officials warned residents to be alert to the danger of landslides. There was no tsunami warning or reports of major damage. Public broadcaster NHK said 17 people were injured. None of the injuries seemed to be life-threatening. The epicenter of the quake — which struck at 2:06am — was located 13km north of the city of Kunisaki, the US Geological Survey said. The quake hit at a depth of 82km.
Gaza truce holding
A truce declared by Gaza militants appeared to be holding yesterday with the military reporting no fresh rocket fire during the night after two days of tit-for-tat violence. “It’s all quiet, there has been no fire overnight,” an army spokesman said at 8am. The radical Islamic Jihad group announced on Thursday that an Egyptian-brokered truce on the Israel-Gaza border had been restored after warplanes pounded the territory in response to a barrage of rocket fire by its militants.
NYC death toll rises to eight
Rescuers scouring the rubble of two Manhattan apartment buildings leveled in a gas explosion found the body of an eighth victim on Thursday, nearly 36 hours after the disaster. An unspecified number of people remain missing after Wednesday’s building collapse in East Harlem. The New York Police Department said that five women and three men were killed, and 68 others injured in the incident.