Mount Aso erupts
Mount Aso in Kumamoto Prefecture yesterday sent huge plumes of gray smoke as high as 11km into the air in one of the volcano’s biggest explosions in years. The Japan Meteorological Agency said the explosion also blew off bits of volcanic rock and ash, and raised the alert level for the area, extending the entry ban from just around the volcanic mouth to the mountain itself. Nobody lives within the area and there were no reports of injuries or damage in the area still recovering from deadly earthquakes earlier this year. Mount Aso has repeated smaller eruptions in recent years. The agency said the volcano could erupt again. The country sits atop the Pacific’s “Ring of Fire” and has more than 100 volcanoes.
Missing teens feared dead
Seven teenagers were feared dead yesterday, a day after they went missing when their boat capsized on a river, officials said. None have been found despite a major rescue operation. The wooden boat was carrying 25 Islamic boarding school male students across the Solo River on Java when it capsized early on Friday. Officials said they suspected overloading caused the boat to tilt. “They were about to reach land, about 7m away or so, but the kids, probably from overexcitement, came to the front of the boat, making the boat unbalance,” said Suprapto, a local disaster management official. The missing passengers were aged between 12 and 19. Eighteen other passengers survived, Suprapto added. Scores of rescuers were deployed to search the river using inflatable boats soon after the accident, but none of the missing teenagers have been found.
PJD leads in national poll
The Muslim party which has headed Morocco’s coalition government since the “Arab Spring” uprising five years ago beat liberal rivals in parliamentary elections on Friday, according to official partial results. The Islamist Justice and Development Party (PJD) took 99 seats while the Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) — which had campaigned against the “Islamization” of Moroccan society — took 80 with 90 percent of the vote counted, the Ministry of the Interior said. Minister of the Interior Mohamed Hassad said the election was “transparent” and had gone well, rejecting accusations of voter fraud from both sides. The PJD earlier issued a statement saying it was “very concerned about numerous reports of fraud being carried out by authorities” in favor of the PAM, and called on the ministry to “urgently intervene.” PAM spokesman Khalid Adennoun declined to comment.
Militants kill themselves
Two militants yesterday detonated explosives, killing themselves in a remote area near Ankara, after police called on them to surrender, CNN Turk and other broadcasters reported. The militants, believed to be a male and female, were suspected of being linked to the armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) group and were believed to have been in possession of plastic explosives and 200kg of ammonium nitrate, CNN Turk said. It said a third person was being sought. The state-run Anadolu Agency said the two militants were preparing to carry out a car bomb attack when the blast occurred in countryside on the road from Ankara to the town of Haymana. The PKK has fought a three-decade insurgency, focused in the mainly Kurdish southeast of the country, in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.