Five killed in collapse
A portion of a five-story building in Mumbai collapsed in heavy monsoon rains, killing at least five people, authorities said yesterday. Rescuers used sensors and life detectors to find another five people still feared trapped in the debris of the building, said Vijayendra Dahiya, an official at the National Disaster Management Authority. Another six people were injured when the part of the structure caved in on Monday night. Another part caved in later. Police cordoned off the building fearing more of it could collapse.
Pet shop owner arrested
Police found 14 albino lions imported from Africa and hundreds of other protected animals in a warehouse near Bangkok and have arrested a pet shop owner. Birds, meerkats, tortoises, peafowls, capuchin monkeys and other species from overseas as well as animals native to the country were found at the warehouse, police Colonel Ek Ekasart said. Montri Boonprom-on, 41, faces charges of possessing wildlife and carcasses and could face up to four years in jail and a fine of 40,000 baht (US$1,300). Ek said Montri owns an exotic pet shop at the Chatuchak weekend market and was previously convicted of wildlife trading. The animals have been handed over to the Department of Natural Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation.
Chinese guilty of trafficking
A Chinese owner of a karaoke bar has been convicted of sex trafficking, the US Department of Justice said on Monday. Chang Ru Meng Backman, 40, was convicted of one count of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion. She was the “boss lady” of the Holiday Karaoke Club and coerced Chinese women into having sex with customers for her financial benefit, the department said. Authorities said she preyed on women who had been enticed from China with promises of legitimate work on a farm, hotel or restaurant. Backman faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum term of life imprisonment. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 13.
The Civil Aviation Department has grounded the country’s Chinese-made MA60 planes for safety checks following two landing incidents involving the aircraft in the past month, a senior official said yesterday. An MA60 carrying about 60 passengers skidded off a runway at a southern airport on Monday, but nobody was injured. An MA60 overshot the end of a runway at an airport in eastern Shan State last month, injuring two people. The same type of aircraft crash-landed at an Indonesian airport on Monday, slightly injuring two people.
Doctors warned over dengue
The Ministry of Health has told doctors to be more vigilant against dengue fever as the mosquito-borne disease surges this year. The city-state has had more than 9,000 cases and two deaths since January. That is twice the total for all of last year. Part of the reason for this year’s increase is that the dengue virus seems to be showing more strength and resistance, said Asok Kurup, a doctor at Mount Elizabeth Hospital’s infectious diseases care center, who has treated dozens of cases of dengue this year. Authorities say they are stepping up fumigation with insecticide and public awareness campaigns are being planned.
Iraqi charged at tribunal
An Iraqi prisoner identified as a senior al-Qaeda commander has been charged in the Guantanamo war crimes tribunal with firing on a medical evacuation helicopter and using unlawful tactics to wage war on US and allied forces in Afghanistan. The US military made the charges against Abd al-Hadi public in a statement as it prepared to start two weeks of pre-trial hearings yesterday for other alleged al-Qaeda operatives in the tribunals at the Guantanamo Bay naval base. Prosecutors allege that al-Hadi funded and oversaw all of al-Qaeda’s operations against US and allied forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan between March 2002 and 2004.
Plan B restrictions scrapped
The US Department of Justice will scrap age restrictions on the sale of emergency contraception pills, making the morning-after pill available to women and girls without a prescription. The department said in a letter on Monday that it would comply with a court’s ruling to allow unrestricted sales of Plan B One-Step, withdrawing its appeal on the matter. The move closes a battle over the pill that has lasted over a decade, but could raise new controversy for US President Barack Obama. Until recently, the pill was only available without a prescription to women 17 and older who presented proof of age at a pharmacist’s counter.
‘Sick notes’ spark criticism
A tour operator is offering “sick notes” to families wanting to take their children on holiday before the end of the school term, in a tongue-in-cheek campaign that has drawn strong criticism from education authorities. “We are handing out free sick notes for the last week of June as we believe families should be able to go on holiday for the lowest possible price,” tour operator Neckermann said in a campaign launched on Sunday. Trips to popular destinations are very often cheaper ahead of the official start of summer school holidays on July 1. A spokesman for the travel group said it was clear the campaign was not meant seriously and Neckermann would not provide genuine sick notes.
Men in skirts victorious
Male staff on a number of Stockholm’s commuter trains who wore skirts to work in protest have emerged victorious after their employer lifted a ban on wearing shorts, transport company Arriva said on Monday. About 15 male train drivers and other workers last week wore skirts on the suburban Roslagsbanan train service to circumvent the shorts ban, saying temperatures inside the carriages could reach 35°C on a sunny day. “We received so many suggestions from our staff, and we listened to them and decided to change our minds on this issue,” Arriva spokesman Tomas Hedenius said, one day after he said a dress code review would not be made until the fall.
Star astronaut to retire
Astronaut Chris Hadfield says he is retiring from the space program and moving back to Canada after decades away from home. Hadfield gained international prominence during his recent six-month trip to the International Space Station, where he used social media to share experiments, photographs and a memorable music video. He announced on Monday that he is leaving the Canadian Space Agency next month. He will leave behind his longtime home in Houston, where he built his career as an astronaut.