Boat accident claims 11
State media have said 11 people were killed in a boat collision on a river in southern Hunan Province. Central Television said one other person is missing after Friday’s crash on the Yuan River. Ten people were injured and hospitalized. The Yuanjiang City government said on its Web site that a steel-structured boat carrying 22 people struck a freight vessel, causing all on board the boat to fall into the water. Boat accidents are common in China, although water safety is improving. State-run China News said in a July report that the country had 117 boat accidents in the first six months of this year, killing 142 people. It quoted a spokesman for the Ministry of Transport as saying both figures were down from last year.
Hong Kong sinking toll rises
The death toll from Hong Kong’s biggest maritime tragedy in decades has risen to 39 and rescue workers have called off the search for any more missing, authorities said. Hong Kong’s government said late on Friday that another person had died following the collision between a commuter ferry and a smaller boat carrying people to see a holiday fireworks display on Monday evening. All 39 dead, and most of the nearly 100 injured, were aboard the smaller boat, the Lamma IV, which was carrying 124 passengers and three crew. It had just departed Lamma Island, off the southwest coast of main Hong Kong island and was heading for Victoria Harbour when it collided with the Sea Smooth ferry and sank rapidly. Police have arrested seven crew members from the two boats, including both captains. The government also said rescuers had called off their search for any more missing people after accounting for everyone aboard both vessels.
New China diplomat named
Japan is to name a career diplomat as its ambassador to China — with the neighbors in a bitter territorial row — after the newly appointed envoy fell ill and died last month, reports said yesterday. Masato Kitera, 59, is to be chosen to succeed Uichiro Niwa next month and become Tokyo’s point man in the dispute over an island chain in the East China Sea, Japanese dailies Asahi, Yomiuri and others reported. Japan initially picked Shinichi Nishimiya, another career diplomat, for the post, but before he could take up the role he fell ill in a Tokyo street last month and was taken to hospital, dying a few days later.
A writer who spoke out against Chinese repression of Tibet has burned himself to death, a rights group said — the 53rd person to set themselves ablaze protesting Beijing’s rule. The International Campaign for Tibet said in a statement that Gudrub, 42, called for freedom for the region and the return of the exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama while flames engulfed him in Tibet’s Nagchu county on Thursday. Gudrub, who was only identified by one name, was taken to a local hospital by authorities where he was pronounced dead, the London-based group said, citing multiple exile Tibetan media outlets. Calls to authorities in Nagchu yesterday went unanswered. China’s Tibetan-inhabited areas have seen an explosion in such protests since February 2009, with at least 53 Tibetans setting themselves alight, mostly since March last year, the campaign said.
Actress accused of theft
Koo Stark, the former girlfriend of Britain’s Prince Andrew, appeared in court on Friday accused of stealing a painting from a former partner. Stark, 56, an actress, photographer and artist who dated Andrew in the early 1980s, appeared at West London Magistrates’ Court on charges relating to the ￡40,000 (US$65,000) artwork. It is alleged she stole the Anthonie van Borssom oil painting from the flat of her former partner, Warren Walker, father of her daughter Tatiana. Stark denied stealing the artwork, which depicts a moonlit coastal landscape. Stark dated Andrew for 18 months after his return from serving in the 1982 Falklands War. He went on to marry Sarah Ferguson in 1986
Arrest in missing girl case
Police investigating the disappearance of a five-year-old girl in Wales have arrested a man on suspicion of murder. April Jones was last seen by another child getting into a grey van in the town of Machynlleth on Monday evening. Mark Bridger, a 46-year-old man, was arrested the next day on suspicion of abduction. Police said on Friday that Bridger had been re-arrested on suspicion of murder. The girl’s disappearance has sparked a huge hunt that saw hundreds of local volunteers combing woods and fields. She still has not been found. Detective Superintendent Reg Bevan said police remain committed to finding her.
Archeological dig starts
A new search has begun at an island where an ancient device known as the world’s “oldest computer” was found over a century ago, an official said on Friday, adding that other discoveries were possible. Archaeologists this week returned to Antikythera, the Aegean Sea island where sponge divers in 1900-1901 found the so-called “Antikythera Mechanism,” a remarkable second-century BC device that tracked the cycles of the solar system. “These are unexplored sea depths beneath a trade route known since antiquity,” said Angeliki Simosi, head of Greece’s ephorate of underwater
antiquities. “This is virgin territory,” she said.
Believed to operate by crank and containing inter-meshing gears, the mechanism could be used to calculate eclipses and moon cycles. The technology was comparable to astronomical clocks that only appeared some 1,600 years later. It was found in the wreck of a cargo ship apparently carrying booty to Rome.
Putin’s desirability polled
One in five Russian women say they would be willing to marry President Vladimir Putin, according to a poll published yesterday. Six percent of respondents said they would definitely marry Putin, who turns 60 on Oct. 7, while 14 percent said they would probably like to wed him, the Moscow-based Levada Center said in a statement on its Web site. Two-thirds said they would not, including 43 percent of women who were definitely opposed. Among women with secondary educations and aged between 25 and 39, a quarter said they would like to marry Vladimir Putin, the polling organization said. Twenty-four percent of lower-class Russians and 22 percent of village residents said they were interested. Those most uninterested in marrying the three-term president were the wealthy, with 86 percent saying they would pass up the chance, according to the poll. Seven in 10 women age 55 or older were also opposed, Levada said.