are tornado injures 30
A tornado has torn through an area just northeast of Tokyo, killing one, injuring dozens and destroying dozens of homes. The fire department said the tornado struck yesterday in Tsukuba, 60km northeast of Tokyo. Firefighters and helicopter medical teams rushed to the area, and 30 to 50 homes have been destroyed. Other details were not immediately available. NHK TV footage showed rows of houses that had lost roofs and apartment complexes with smashed balconies and shattered windows. NHK also showed footage of a swirling gray cloud it said was taken by a passer-by. Tornadoes are rare in the Tokyo area.
Nine die in karaoke bar fire
A fire has torn through a karaoke bar in Busan, killing nine people. Police said yesterday the victims were drinking and singing at the karaoke lounge when the blaze broke out on Saturday night. Busan police say they believe three Sri Lankan men and six South Koreans have died after inhaling toxic gases. Police say the fire has left 25 other people injured and one of them is in serious condition.
Twelve die in car pileups
State media say 12 people have been killed and 19 others injured in two back-to-back highway accidents in the southwest. Xinhua news agency says that a truck hit a car on Saturday afternoon on an expressway between Shantou and Kunming, killing three and injuring two. Xinhua says an 11-vehicle pileup then occurred 14 minutes later 125m away on the same highway. The second accident killed nine people and injured 17 others. Xinhua says the causes of the accidents are under investigation.
Pyongyang rejects call
Pyongyang vowed yesterday to push ahead with what it says are peaceful nuclear and space programs, rejecting calls from the five permanent UN Security Council members to drop the program. Pyongyang condemned a statement issued on Thursday last week by the US, ally China, Russia, France and the UK on the sidelines of a non-proliferation meeting in Vienna. They had expressed “serious concern” and urged Pyongyang to “refrain from further actions which may cause grave security concerns in the region, including any nuclear tests.” Thursday’s statement was an “illegal act that infringes upon” the Pyongyang’s right to use space and nuclear power for peaceful purposes, an unnamed foreign ministry spokesman said.
Elderly mountaineers die
Eight elderly mountaineers who went missing in the country’s Northern Alps following a snowstorm were confirmed dead on Saturday after some of them were evacuated by helicopter, police said. A group of six climbers in their 60s and 70s were spotted early on Saturday after they collapsed near Mount Korenge in central Nagano Prefecture, a police spokesman said. The climbers, who went missing on Friday on their way to the 2,932m Shiroumadake Peak, were transported by helicopter to a nearby village, but were later confirmed dead, he said. The spokesman also confirmed the death of a 62-year-old woman who was found unconscious near Jiigatake Peak, south of Mount Korenge. Another 71-year-old man died of hypothermia after he made an emergency call for rescue after being stuck in bad weather near Karasawa Peak, south of Jiigatake Peak.
Drug center fire kills 14
A fire killed 14 people trapped in a locked-down drug rehabilitation center in Chosica, 30km east of Lima, with no means of escape, the city’s fire department said on Saturday. “They have found 14 bodies and one person survived,” spokeswoman Elena Cabello said of the fire. The fire broke out in the early morning at the Sacred Heart of Jesus rehabilitation center, which was housed in a two-story building, said Fernando Campos, the head of the firefighting unit on the scene. “The doors were locked and the windows on the second floor had bars on them. It was not possible for people to get out,” he said. A total of 13 bodies were found on the second floor of the building and one on the first floor.
Six arrested in lotto scam
Police have arrested six people accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from US citizens through a lottery scam. Saturday’s statement from police said that one of the men had more than US$60,000 in an account believed to belong to the victims. Police also seized computers, information on the lottery scam and lists of US victims, with their addresses and other personal information. The arrests came after police contacted a US victim they said had lost US$120,000 through the scam.
National Xmas tree dies
Federal officials said the national Christmas tree planted near the White House a year ago has died and is being removed. The National Park Service said the Colorado blue spruce died of “transplant shock.” It came from a tree farm in New Jersey last year and was planted just south of the White House in March last year. The tree replaced one that had stood in the same location since 1978, but was destroyed by high winds in February last year. The National Park Service said it had already identified a Colorado blue spruce to replace the tree and would plant the new national Christmas tree in October, just in time to be decorated for the holiday.
Paintings found in carpark
Four paintings, including one by 17th century French painter Nicolas Poussin, have been found undamaged in a carpark in the Corsican capital, Ajaccio, police said on Saturday. Ajaccio public prosecutor Thomas Pison said police were told by an anonymous telephone caller on Friday where to find the missing works, which include Poussin’s Midas at the Source of the River Pactolus and Mariotto di Nardo’s 14th century Pentecost. The other works are Giovanni Bellini’s 15th-century Virgin and Child and Virgin with Child in a Glory of Seraphins by an anonymous 16th--century Umbrian artist. The four are estimated to be worth about 10 million euros (US$13 million) and disappeared from the island’s Fesch museum of fine art in February last year.
Medical plane crashes
Four people died when their medical evacuation plane plunged into the Caribbean shortly after taking off from the Franco-Dutch island, the health ministry said on Saturday. A sick Greek Cypriot tourist, the pilot, a doctor and a nurse, all French, were on board the small plane when it crashed before dawn, five minutes after take-off. The sick man had been transferred to the French part of the island after a plane on the Dutch side could not take off because of technical problems. The cause of the crash was under investigation, the ministry said in a statement.