World News Quick Take

AGENCIES

Tue, Mar 22, 2005 - Page 7

■ Cambodia
Noodle shop blast kills six

Six people were killed and another 17 injured yesterday when a noodle shop collapsed after a gas cooker exploded, police and witnesses said. The early morning blast on a busy street in Phnom Penh killed the two shop owners and four others, police said. "We are searching for more bodies. We suspect that there are two more bodies stuck in the building," policeman Chhith Vuthy said. He said 17 people were taken to hospital. "We think the cause was the cooker which got too hot and the building is also very old," he said.

■ Sri Lanka

Rebels clash, two killed

Two rival factions of the Tamil Tiger rebels clashed yesterday in eastern Sri Lanka, killing at least two combatants and wounding three. A splinter group broke away from the Tamil Tigers a year ago, and the two factions have frequently been clashing, threatening a 2002 ceasefire between the rebels and government. The northern-based Tigers accuse the government of backing the eastern, breakaway rebels. The government denies the charge.

■ Bangladesh

Tornadoes strike, 28 dead

Two tornadoes tore through northern Bangladesh, killing at least 28 people, injuring nearly 900 and leaving thousands homeless. The tornadoes struck late Sunday almost simultaneously, blowing away huts in dozens of farming villages in Gaibandha and Rangpur districts. The tornado also flattened 700 mud and straw houses. Rescue teams have been dispatched to the area. A second tornado swept through neighboring Rangpur district, killing at least three people and injuring about 100. The tornadoes blew away or leveled thousands of trees and electricity poles plunging villages into darkness and hampering rescue work, said Mahbubul Islam, a journalist in Rangpur. The twisters struck when many villagers were either asleep or preparing to eat dinner.

■ Australia

Woman kills family, self

A woman in a troubled marriage shot her husband, her children and then turned the gun on herself, police said yesterday in their first public comments on a triple-murder suicide that has shocked Australians as much by the gender of the perpetrator as the grisly nature of the crime. Police believe Sally Winter, 32, shot dead husband Steven, also 32, and children Jake and Casey, aged four and three, before killing herself with a bullet to the head. Relatives found the bodies Sunday inside the family's new house in affluent Hunter Valley.

■ China

Illegal demolitions fined

New draft rules introduce fines of up to US$60,000 dollars for developers who knock down buildings without approval from the government or courts. The rules are open for public opinion until March 30 but already many residents are saying the fines are not big enough to deter real estate developers looking for prime land. Across China's major cities, especially in Beijing where the 2008 Olympic Games will be held, people living in centrally-located homes are being forced to make way for commercial and residential buildings. Critics accuse the authorities of being in cohorts with developers, hungry for the revenue they can rake in. Most residents grudgingly pack up, having no choice but to take a non-negotiable amount as compensation. In some cases thugs hired by developers have broken into people's homes, dragging people out of bed and beating them, before demolishing old houses.

■ United Kingdom
Woman seeks constable

When Britain introduced its new freedom of information laws, Angela Wright seized on them as a chance to find an unattached man in uniform. Wright sent an email to her local police force asking about "eligible bachelors within Hampshire constabulary between the ages of 35 and 49 and details of their email addresses, salary details and pension values." But police said the names and addresses were personal and exempt from the laws, which came into force in January. They were prepared to tell her, however, that the Hampshire force had 266 eligible bachelors, of whom 201 were in uniform. Wright said she had two reasons for making her request. "The first was to amuse the [freedom of information] team. The second was to see what response I could get."

■ East Timor

Two expelled for abuse

Australian and Jordanian troops serving together in the intervention force in East Timor faced off at gunpoint in a 2001 incident over the sexual abuse of boys by the Middle Eastern soldiers. A UN report into the incident said two Jordanian soldiers had been expelled from East Timor and the Australian peacekeeper who raised the issue with the UN East Timor headquarters in Dili was evacuated. The Australian reported claims by a group of children that Jordanian soldiers had offered local boys, the youngest of them 12 years old, money and food in exchange for oral sex and intercourse. Human rights workers in East Timor confirmed the account.

■ West Bank

Tulkarem talks break down

Israeli and Palestinian commanders were trying to iron out the last disputes over the handover of a second West Bank town to Palestinian security control, but the disagreements over security issues signaled trouble ahead for peace efforts. Israeli officials doubted whether the town of Tulkarem would revert to Palestinian control yesterday, as originally planned, after a meeting of security commanders on Sunday evening broke up in disagreement.

■ United Nations

Security Council may grow

There is broad international support for widening membership of the UN Security Council and giving the organization more power, according to a BBC World Service poll published yesterday. The poll surveyed 23,518 people in 23 countries, and found a majority of people in 22 countries support an expansion of the UN Security Council to include new permanent members. Germany and Japan were the most popular choices for new member countries, with 56 percent of all respondents supporting the inclusion of Germany and 54 percent in favor of including Japan.

■ Namibia

New parliament sworn in

With a new parliament sworn into office, the country's founding father Sam Nujoma was set to hand over power to his designated successor yesterday after a 23-year independence war and three terms as president. Before a packed public gallery on Sunday, 72 lawmakers came forward and pledged to be faithful to Namibia, its Constitution and its people. Former Prime Minister Theo Ben Gurirab was elected speaker of parliament, and said he would focus on democracy and fighting poverty. Nujoma's South West Africa People's Organization won 55 of Parliament's 72 seats in legislative and presidential elections in November.

■ Peru
Cocaine sales reach US$7bn

Drug smugglers buy cocaine worth an estimated US$7 billion per year from Peru, which is half of the national budget, Peru's anti-drug agency Devida said on Sunday in the capital Lima. The area of cultivation is more than 60,000 hectares, with 90 percent of the harvest going to the illegal production of cocaine, according to Devida director Jorge Valencia. The production capacity of Peru corresponds to approximately 25 percent of the world consumption, Valencia said. Most cocaine worldwide originates from neighboring Colombia.

■ United States

Schiavo action postponed

The US Congress on Sunday put off action on legislation aimed at prolonging the life of brain-damaged Terri Schiavo in the face of objections to the latest move in the emotionally charged case pitting Christian conservatives against right-to-die activists. US House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert, an Illinois Republican, convened the House in a rare Sunday session, but immediately recessed it to prevent some Democrats from voicing their opposition. Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee said the Senate was prepared to pass the measure after the House acted, expected early yesterday morning.

■ Mexico

Five die as bridge collapses

Five people were killed and nine more remain missing in the collapse of a bridge in the Mexican state of Tabasco, a spokeswoman at Mexico's Ministry for Public Safety said late Sunday. The mishap over the River Amatlan in the city of Tacotalpa left another 37 people injured. The bridge was described as a wooden construction held up by steel cables. The structure was designed to hold the weight of 25 people but was carrying about 70 people when it collapsed, sending the crowd falling 15m into the river, the government spokeswoman said.

■ Honduras

Guns-for-drugs deal foiled

Honduras said on Sunday that it had discovered an arms-and-drug trafficking operation linking Colombian rebels and arms traffickers in Honduras and Nicaragua. Honduran Security Minister Oscar Alvarez said arms traffickers in Honduras were shipping mostly AK-47 assault rifles to Colombia's largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in exchange for drugs. "The drugs were presumably then destined for the United States, although some of it stayed here," said ministry spokesman Leonel Sauceda. Three Hondurans involved in the scheme have been identified, with two in custody and the third managing the operation from within his prison cell.

■ United States

Automaker DeLorean dies

John DeLorean, an innovative automaker who left a promising career in Detroit to develop the short-lived gull-winged sports cars featured as a souped-up time travel machine in the Back to the Future movies, has died. He was 80. DeLorean died Saturday at Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey, of complications from a recent stroke, said Paul Connell, an owner of A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Directors in Royal Oak, Michigan, which was handling arrangements. DeLorean was among just a handful of US entrepreneurs who dared start a car company in the last 75 years. Nearly all faded away, but his crashed spectacularly amid drug charges.