Landslides kill 15 in south
Heavy rains brought by a typhoon triggered landslides in the south that buried homes and vehicles and killed at least 15 people, as the number of dead or missing from recent flooding in the country surged past 200. Nine people were reported killed in Hunan Province and six in Guangxi, where vehicles were covered in mud and rocks along a mountain highway, local flood control offices said. The deaths come after three people died on Sunday in a landslide near the Guangxi city of Wuzhou. Rains brought by last week’s Typhoon Utor have caused severe flooding across Hunan, Guangxi and Guangdong Province.
Pyongyang accuses Park
Pyongyang yesterday accused South Korean President Park Geun-hye of provocative war-mongering a day after Seoul launched an annual military drill with the US. Rather than criticizing the joint exercise itself — as it has often done in the past —Pyongyang focused its anger on comments Park made at a meeting of her National Security Council that coincided with the start of the drill on Monday. “No matter how peaceful things are, a crisis would come if we forget about war,” Park said. “It is very important to ensure firm security preparedness in any circumstances.” Pyongyang’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said Park’s comments amounted to an “agitation for extreme confrontation” and poured “cold water” on the recent efforts at reconciliation.
Giant ibis nest found
Jubilant conservationists yesterday expressed hope for the survival of the critically endangered giant ibis after a nest of the bird species was discovered in a previously unknown habitat in northeastern province of Stung Treng. Habitat loss and poaching has pushed the giant ibis to the edge of extinction, with only about 345 of the reclusive creatures — left in the world. A farmer discovered the nesting site a few kilometers inland in the biodiverse Mekong Flooded Forest area last month, the WWF said in a statement. “The discovery of the Giant Ibis nest on the Mekong is extremely significant because it provides hope for the species’ survival,” said Sok Ko, Forestry Administration official and Bird Nest Project officer with the WWF.
Sharif offers olive branch
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for better relations with India in a conciliatory gesture on national television on Monday after weeks of increased military activity along the two nations’ disputed border. “I have made better relations with India my priority. And in the May election, the nation stood by me,” Sharif said in a speech, referring to his landslide victory in recent polls. “Wars between India and Pakistan have put us behind decades. Now we should not be fighting one another but come together to fight poverty and illiteracy.”
Army starts exercises
The Ground Self-Defense Forces put on display yesterday in an annual exercise at the foot of Mount Fuji intended to showcase the nation’s ability to defend itself and to drum up support for plans to give the army a broader role at home and abroad. Designed more as a spectacle than a training opportunity, the exercises focus on a scenario in which Japan is attacked from the sea. As a narrator explained the attack to thousands of spectators in grandstands, a wide array of aircraft, artillery, tanks and helicopters fired on targets at Fuiji’s base.
Police ended a hostage standoff at a city hall in Ingolstadt on Monday by storming the building, shooting and wounding the captor, and freeing his two captives unharmed. Officials said the 24-year-old kidnapper had previously been banned from entering city hall because he was stalking one of its female employees for more than a year. The 25-year-old woman was one of the people he was holding hostage. The kidnapper, whose identity was not released, “was shot in his shoulder and legs” and rushed to a hospital, police spokesman Guenther Beck said. Two other hostages, including a deputy mayor, were freed from the building earlier in the day. More than 200 police officers had surrounded the city hall for nearly nine hours before the special unit raided the building.
CCTV to catch dog poop
The Parisian suburb of Montereau-Fault-Yonne has come up with an innovative plan to fight a plague of dog droppings on local streets — catching offenders on closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. The town said on Monday that municipal police would begin using a decade-old network of CCTV cameras to track down dog owners who do not pick up their pets’ droppings. “This will allow us to identify and seek out pet owners with no sense of civic duty and, in the event of repeat offenses, to fine them” 35 euros (US$47), town mayor Yves Jego said.
Kidnapped pilots safe
Ankara said on Monday the two pilots kidnapped in Lebanon earlier this month are alive, and that it knows roughly where they are. The Turkish Airlines pilots were kidnapped on Aug. 9 when gunmen ambushed a bus carrying the national airline’s crew from Beirut airport to a hotel in the city. “Their whereabouts are more or less known. We know that they are alive, in peace and comfort,” Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters after a Cabinet meeting. A previously unknown group calling itself Zuwwar Imam al-Rida has claimed the kidnapping, demanding Turkey use its influence with Syria’s rebels to secure the release of nine Lebanese Shiites kidnapped in Syria in May last year.
First family has new dog
President Barack Obama and his family welcomed a new addition to the White House on Monday — a dog called Sunny. The black Portuguese water dog joins the first family’s other four-legged friend of the same breed, Bo. “Sunny is the perfect little sister for Bo — full of energy and very affectionate — and the First Family picked her name because it fit her cheerful personality,” a post on the White House blog said.
Ex-drug lord gets 15 years
Former drug kingpin Eduardo Arellano Felix, who pleaded guilty to laundering money for the notorious cartel that bore his family name, was sentenced on Monday in California to 15 years in prison in what law enforcement officials called the end of an era. With the sentencing in San Diego District Court, Arellano Felix, 56, became the last of four brothers killed or sent to prison in connection with the Arellano Felix drug trafficking ring, federal prosecutors said. Arellano Felix pleaded guilty in May to one count of conspiring to launder hundreds of millions of dollars in drug proceeds and one count of conspiring to invest that money for the cartel’s benefit.