Building collapses in capital
A dilapidated building collapsed in New Delhi yesterday, killing at least four people, and rescuers were searching for others believed to be trapped. Police officer Madhur Verma said five survivors also have been pulled out so far from the debris of the four-story building. Three to four people were believed to be still trapped in the collapsed 50-year-old structure. The Press Trust of India news agency said the collapse was triggered by construction work on an adjacent plot of land. Building collapses are common in India, where high demand for housing and lax regulations have encouraged some builders to cut corners, use substandard materials or add unauthorized extra floors.
Drug smuggler sentenced
An Australian of Vietnamese origin has been sentenced to death after trying to smuggle 4kg of heroin out off the country, state media in the nation said yesterday. Pham Trung Dung, 37, was caught with two suitcases containing the drugs at Tan Son Nhat airport in May last year while trying to return to Australia with his wife and children. Dung told a court in southern Ho Chi Minh City that he had been promised US$40,000 by two unidentified men to transport the drugs, an online report by the Tien Phong newspaper said. The nation has some of the world’s toughest antidrug laws. Anyone found guilty of possessing more than 600g of heroin, or more than 20kg of opium, can face death. Earlier this month, six people from a 25-member smuggling gang were handed death sentences for smuggling 620kg of heroin and 1,400 ecstasy pills in northern provinces. In January, authorities sentenced 30 smugglers to death in the country’s largest-ever narcotics case.
NASA to test ‘flying saucer’
NASA was scheduled to launch a “flying saucer” into Earth’s atmosphere yesterday to test technology that could be used to land on Mars. After several weather delays, the attempt off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai was to test the disc-shaped vehicle and a giant parachute. Since the 1970s, NASA has used the same parachute design to slow landers and rovers as they streak through the thin Martian atmosphere. With plans to send heavier spacecraft and eventually astronauts, the space agency needs a much stronger parachute. NASA is testing the technology high in Earth’s atmosphere because conditions there are similar to that of Mars.
Top vigilante arrested
Forces on Friday arrested Jose Manuel Mireles, a senior leader of the powerful anti-crime vigilante group in Michoacan State. Mireles was detained in the Pacific coastal town of Lazar Cardenas after entering a town with more than 100 armed supporters. Mireles, who sported a thick moustache and wore a cowboy hat, was a cofounder of Michoacan’s vigilante or “self-defense” movement. He was arrested with “weapons of exclusive military use,” the Michoacan state government said via Twitter. Mireles entered the town of La Mira on Thursday with about 600 followers armed with automatic rifles. He claimed that the locals had called him for protection against criminal gangs. Vigilantes in Michoacan, mostly farmers and other civilians, took up arms in February last year claiming that the local police was too incompetent or corrupt to protect them from local criminal gangs, especially the cult-like Knights Templar drug cartel. The government was slow to react, but finally last month they agreed to give the vigilantes uniforms and weapons and legalize their movement, but vowed to arrest any armed group that failed to register with the authorities.