Train goes off rails, 15 hurt
A total of 15 people were hospitalized after a train derailed in Heilongjiang Province’s capital, Harbin, early yesterday, officials said. The Harbin Railway Bureau said on its microblog that the cause of the pre-dawn accident was under investigation. It said bureau officials responded to the accident with police and fire and rescue services. The bureau said the train that derailed was an older model, not one of the high-speed trains recently brought into service in the nation’s railway network, on which accidents rarely occur, despite its being one of the world’s most extensive systems.
Bird flu sparks mass culling
The government has ordered the slaughter of about 112,000 chickens after officials yesterday confirmed bird flu infections at a poultry farm in Kumamoto Prefecture. DNA tests showed that the H5 strain of the virus is present at the farm, which houses 56,000 birds, after its owner on Saturday reported a lot of sudden deaths among his poultry, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said in a statement. Officials also ordered the culling of 56,000 birds at a separate farm run by the same owner after deeming it a location of possible infections, the ministry said. It was the first confirmed outbreak of bird flu in the nation in three years and the ministry has been warning farmers about infection risks, citing the continued spread of the disease in Asia, including in South Korea. Authorities on Saturday banned the movement of chickens from the two affected farms, as well as other farms in their vicinities. Authorities were sanitizing areas around the two farms, testing birds in nearby facilities and setting up areas to disinfect vehicles traveling on major roads around the area.
Abducted tribesmen freed
A government official says militants have released more than 90 tribesmen they abducted from a tribal festival in the northwest, but still hold seven influential men. Arshad Khan yesterday said that tribal elders negotiated the release after the gunmen seized about 100 tribesmen on the border of Orakzai and Khyber tribal regions on Saturday. Paramilitary troops had begun a search operation soon after the abductions. A tribal elder said the militants have not demanded anything for the release of the seven men, who are from the Qamberkhel tribe.
MERS kills one, infects eight
A foreigner has died from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), while eight people, including five health workers, have been infected in Jeddah, where the spread of the coronavirus among medics has sparked panic. The death of the 45-year-old man, whose nationality has not been disclosed, brings the nationwide toll in the world’s most MERS-affected country to 68. The Ministry of Health announced the death late on Saturday, adding that two female and three male health workers, had been infected along with three other people. The announcement came after panic over the spread of the virus among medical staff led to the closure of the emergency room at the city’s main public hospital. The total number of national MERS cases has hit 189, the ministry said. The virus was initially concentrated in the east, but has spread. The WHO on Friday said it had been told of 212 laboratory-confirmed cases of MERS worldwide, of which 88 have proved fatal. The virus is considered a deadlier, but less transmissible cousin of the SARS virus that erupted in Asia in 2003. Experts are still struggling to understand MERS, for which there is no known vaccine.