Man falls from balloon
An elderly man plunged to his death in a lake after falling out of a hot air balloon, police said yesterday. Takuo Hayasaka, 70, was thrown from the basket when the balloon suddenly lost altitude over Lake Yanaka on Sunday morning. Two other people aboard, a 46-year-old woman and a 68-year-old man, were uninjured. The survivors told police their balloon briefly touched the surface of the lake before regaining altitude. They said their companion had tipped out of the basket before it started ascending again, a police officer said. All three were licensed balloon pilots, but none was wearing a life jacket, Jiji Press reported. The man’s body was found in the lake five hours later. The cause of his death was not immediately known.
Fortress on UNESCO list
The remains of a fortress that once surrounded Kaesong, the ancient capital of the Koryo Dynasty, are among sites that made it onto UNESCO’s World Heritage list on Sunday. Pyongyang’s bid to have the sites added to the list was approved at a UNESCO meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Twelve sites in the North that were added include the ruins of the Manwoldae Palace; a 1,000-year-old academy that was the top school during that era; relics housed at a museum at the school; and the mausoleum of King Kongmin.
Fugitive caught after 15 years
A British man who killed his aunt by stabbing her 70 times and who has been on the run for 15 years after escaping from prison in England has been arrested, reports said yesterday. Simon Hennessey spent 20 years in jail for brutally killing his elderly aunt, but walked out of a low-security jail in December 1998. At the time, he was serving a life sentence for killing the woman in her home in Plymouth when he was 14. Queensland State police told the Sunshine Coast Daily that the 49-year-old was picked up by chance in the town of Tewantin and at first had given them a false name. They were stunned to discover their mystery prisoner was Hennessey. “We believe he has moved between Thailand, New Zealand and Australia. It looks like he has been coming and going from Australia since about 2003,” Detective Senior Sergeant Daren Edwards told the newspaper. Queensland police have now charged the 49-year-old with a string of 75 fraud charges, including two counts of falsely representing himself as someone else, 38 counts of obtaining the property of another and seven counts of forging documents.
Police yesterday detained at least two dozen people protesting alleged election fraud as parliament convened for the first time since divisive polls last month. About 300 people, clad mostly in the black color of a post-election protest campaign, demonstrated on a road leading to parliament in Kuala Lumpur, calling for a reballoting. Police, backed up by a dozen riot officers armed with shields, batons and tear gas, moved in after several hours.
Airline restricts shark fins
National carrier Air Pacific announced yesterday it will no longer carry shark fins that come from unsustainable or unverified sources. The airline said it had carried out a month-long review of its freight policies and decided to only accept shark products from sustainable sources that did not involve threatened species.
Baby rescued from pipe
A woman has been arrested for attempted murder after her two-day old baby was discovered inside a building’s drains in Alicante and painstakingly rescued by firefighters, police said on Sunday. “A neighbor alerted the fire service that they could hear meowing coming from a waste water pipe, thinking that it was a cat that had become trapped,” police in Alicante said in a statement. However the firefighters and police discovered instead “the cries of a new born-baby and immediately proceeded to dislodge and save the child ... who still had the umbilical cord attached” and was wrapped in plastic bags, police said. The baby, a boy weighing 2.1kg, was taken to a local hospital in serious condition, but his life is not in danger,” the statement said. After saving the boy, police arrested a 26-year-old woman, who lives in the building, for attempted murder.
Emir to meet with royals
The emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, was expected to meet members of the royal family yesterday, with officials and diplomats saying a transfer of power to his son, Crown Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, is imminent. Diplomats and officials agree that the emir is preparing to hand over control of the oil-rich emirate, which plays a key role in the Arab world. The 61-year-old emir came to power in 1995 in a palace coup against his father.
Shootout clouds elections
A shootout that killed an opposition activist cast a shadow over the nation’s crucial general election on Sunday, with both sides claiming victory in a vote that could determine whether one of Europe’s poorest countries has a chance of joining the EU. In the absence of preliminary results, the ruling coalition of outgoing Prime Minister Sali Berisha and his rival Socialist leader Edi Rama both told supporters they had won. The Socialists based their claims on the exit poll released by a private TV station which said that Rama’s coalition was leading the vote. Fears of violence were high after a 53-year-old activist in Rama’s coalition was killed in a shootout in the northern town of Lac.
Abortion referendum aborted
A national vote on whether to call a referendum to repeal a law legalizing abortion failed to garner enough support, according to results on Sunday. With more than 95 percent of precincts counted, just 8.65 percent of the total eligible to vote, or 226,653 people, were in favor of holding the mooted referendum, the electoral court reported. In October last year, President Jose Mugica signed a bill making his country only the second in mainly Catholic South America to legalize abortion.
Soldiers killed in clashes
At least 12 soldiers have been killed in less than 24 hours of clashes with supporters of a radical Sunni cleric in the southern city of Sidon, a military spokesman said yesterday. The fighting intensified yesterday, witnesses and the National News Agency reported, a day after the violence began, when supporters of Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir opened fire on an army checkpoint. The clashes are linked to the ongoing violence in Syria. Witnesses said gunfire and the sound of shelling had increased in the early hours of yesterday morning in the Abra neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of Sidon, where the fighting is now concentrated.