Earthquakes hit northeast
Multiple earthquakes hit northeastern areas yesterday, with a magnitude 5.5 the strongest among them, according to seismologists, causing serious damage to homes. The magnitude 5.5 quake hit at 6:04am, 34km north of Changling in Jilin Province at a shallow depth of 12.5km, the US Geological Survey said. It was followed around thirty minutes later by a magnitude 4.9 quake just south of Qian’an, with a similar tremor felt a day earlier in the same area. State TV images showed seriously damaged houses, some with roofs or walls partially collapsed. Some villages lost power, according to Xinhua news agency, which did not mention casualties.
Surfer killed by shark
A surfer was killed by a shark yesterday off a notorious stretch of the west coast. No one saw the attack yesterday morning off a beach near Gracetown, but the surfer’s injuries were consistent with a shark attack, Western Australia state police spokesman Samuel Dinnison said. The sleepy community of Gracetown has now been the site of three fatal shark attacks on surfers in the past decade. Surfers have been killed in 2004 and 2010. A passerby came upon the gored victim, who had been surfing alone, and called an ambulance. Dinnison said it was not yet clear whether the victim was still alive when he was found or how he got out of the water. The victim has yet to be identified.
Boy used as drug mule
Police found a seven-year-old boy from Myanmar crying alone at a bus stop with almost 10,000 methamphetamine pills in his backpack, officers said yesterday. The child was discovered on Thursday evening in the Thong Pha Phum District of Kanchanaburi Province near the border with Myanmar, local police said. “Officers approached him and asked him questions, but he could not speak Thai,” district police chief Colonel Amnuay Pongsawat said. He said the drugs were found in about 50 plastic bags wedged into two baby powder bottles. “It is the first time that we have seen drug trafficking gangs use a child as a courier,” Amnuay said. He said he believed the boy had been dropped off by an uncle. The UN sounded the alarm this month over record seizures of methamphetamine in parts of Asia. In its pill form — known as yaba, which means “crazy medicine” — the narcotic is used both as a party drug and pick-me-up for low-paid workers with long hours.
Miners killed in landslide
At least 12 illegal miners have been killed and several are missing after a landslide at a goldmine in a northeastern part of the country, a security source and locals said on Thursday. The collapse happened Tuesday night near the city of Siguiri, a member of the security forces said. Witnesses said that emergency workers were continuing to search for survivors and bodies on Thursday. “We might never know the number of people buried in the shafts that are 20m to 25m deep because the search operation is being carried out by hand, with shovels and picks,” a local journalist said. It is the fifth such disaster in a fortnight in the Siguiri area, with the previous landslides killing four people, including three women, according to locals. “There was an awareness campaign and warnings were put out repeatedly to prevent illegal miners going down into the shafts,” the security source said.
New doorknobs banned
Vancouver has banned doorknobs in new construction, a city official said on Thursday. Wrist-twisting doorknobs will be replaced with levers to make it easier for seniors and those with disabilities, city spokeswoman Viviana Zanocco told reporters. The new rules are included in an amended building code, which takes effect on March 1 next year. It will not apply retroactively to older buildings. Toronto’s OCAD University design professor Howard Gerry told the daily Toronto Star: “It makes good sense, even for private houses. Think about an aging population or an individual carrying groceries or small children. Levers make access easier.” Others, such as antique doorknob sellers, however, were flying off the handle about the move. Antique Door Knob Collectors of America president Allen Joslyn told the Vancouver Sun: “To say that when I build my private home and nobody is disabled, that I have to put levers on, strikes me as overreach.”
Toronto mayor draws laughs
Disgraced Toronto Mayor Rob Ford drew laughs with self-deprecation late on Thursday in his first public speech since he was stripped of most powers over headline-grabbing misconduct. Ford, who was sanctioned at the beginning of the week following his admissions of smoking crack and binge drinking, was promoting his administration’s fiscal record to a largely business audience. “We’ve reduced Council and the mayor’s budget by US$6.4 million over four years,” he said, adding after a pause: “Even more in the last three days.” The reference to Council’s vote on Monday to slash the mayor’s annual US$2 million office budget by more than 60 percent provoked chuckles in the audience, according to a video of the event distributed on Friday.
Corpses found after tip-off
At least 33 mutilated corpses have been found buried in the west of the country where drug cartels are battling each other, officials said on Friday, the latest in a series of grisly finds amid a scourge of gang-related violence. The bodies, which showed signs of torture, were found in 19 ditches in La Barca on the border between the states of Michoacan and Jalisco, where a clutch of rival cartels operate. Experts began searching the area based on comments from 25 municipal police who were detained and accused of links to criminal organizations. Some of them had said corpses of people killed by rival gangs were dumped in the area. “It looks like a minefield ... The excavations have been carried out based on the declarations of the detained police,” an official at the attorney general’s office told reporters.
Hitler photographs sold
A French veteran made more than 10,000 euros (US$13,557) on Friday selling four photo albums he took from Adolf Hitler’s mountain retreat as “a souvenir” in the final days of World War II. The albums, which contain pictures and messages of admiration, were presented to Hitler by supporters in the 1930s and early 1940s. Paul Gerbi, 92, who took the four items from Hitler’s library at his mansion, the Berghof, in Berchtesgaden, fought as a sergeant in General Philippe Leclerc’s 2nd Armoured Division. He said he arrived at the mountain retreat on May 4, 1945, four days before the end of the war and four days after Hitler’s suicide in Berlin. “For us these are great memories because to arrive at Hitler’s place at the end of the war was great after all he had done,” Gerbi said.