Cyanide spill sickens scores
More than 100 people in Taichung County have been hospitalized after being poisoned by liquefied cyanide from an overturned truck, police said yesterday. Environmental officials feared the cyanide, which flowed into a nearby sewer, could create an ecological disaster when it streams into the sea through Taichung Harbor. Police said the accident took place Thursday afternoon after the truck got a flat tire and crashed. "The rear tire of the truck came off in front of the intersection of Lihai Road in Wuchi and overturned when the driver stepped on the brake," a police officer said. He said the tank holding 35 tonnes of liquefied cyanide came off from the truck and spilled all over the road. Doctors said nearby residents began to feel sick Thursday night and by yesterday morning more than 100 people had been hospitalized after breathing in air containing poisonous particles.
Bleaching bandit guilty
A Cameroonian, Mbwemo Franco, was found guilty of fraud and sentenced to eight months in prison by the Taipei District Court, local media reported yesterday. Police said that Franco told a hotel owner, surnamed Cheng, that he was capable of bleaching black paper into US dollar bills. The Cameroonian then cheated Cheng of his money, claiming that he needed US$13,000 (about NT$452,500) to purchase special bleach in order to turn the paper into money for him. Cheng later changed his mind and called the police instead. Franco was arrested on the spot when he collected the money from the hotel owner. The Cameroonian will be deported from Taiwan after his sentence is completed.
Fewer students going to US
The number of students pursuing education in the US hit a 10-year low last year at 13,767, a 7 percent decrease from the the 2001 level, according to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Education. Ministry statistics show that the number of students acquiring US study visas was 14,878 in 2001, also a decline from the 2000 level of 15,547. The noticeable falls might have something to do with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the US, while the war in Iraq might have caused the situation to deteriorate further, ministry officials said. After the outbreak of the war, the Ministry asked Taipei Economic and Cultural Offices across the US to inform Taiwan's students there, or those who are planning to go there, of the heightened security alert. The situation might also be the result of a shift in interest among students to Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.
Tonnes of biowaste lost
KMT Legislator Hsu Chung-hsiung (徐中雄) urged the government yesterday to step up measures to track medical waste, particularly in light of the severe acute respiratory disease (SARS) outbreak. Hsu made the remarks in a press conference held at the Legislative Yuan. Hsu said that the Department of Health has estimated that about 14,834 tonness of contagious medical waste was produced last year, but the Environmental Protection Administration could only account for 9,221 tonnes of it and therefore lost track of 40 percent of the total. However, Hsu said that academic circles and the private sector have estimated that the missing medical waste could reach as high as 9072 tonnes.
China’s Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong has asked foreign consulates in Hong Kong to submit details of their local staff, which is more proof that the “one country, two systems” model no longer exists, a Taiwanese academic said. The office sent letters dated Monday last week to consulates in the territory, giving them one month to submit the information it requires. The move followed Beijing’s attempt to obtain floor plans for all properties used by foreign missions in Hong Kong last year, which raised concerns among diplomats that the information could be used for
‘ABNORMITY’: News of the military exercises on the coast of the Chinese province facing Taiwan were made public by the Ministry of National Defense on Thursday Taiwan’s military yesterday said it has detected the Chinese military initiating a round of exercises at a bay area in coastal Fujian Province, which faces Taiwan, since early yesterday morning and it has been closely monitoring the drills. The exercises being conducted at Fujian’s Dacheng Bay featured an undisclosed number of People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) warplanes, warships and ground troops, the Ministry of National Defense said in a press statement. The ministry did not disclose what kind of military exercises are being conducted there and for how long they would be happening, but it did say that it has been closely watching
Vice President William Lai (賴清德) yesterday said that Beijing was trying to “annex” Taiwan, while China said its recent series of drills near Taiwan are aimed at combating the “arrogance” of separatist forces. The Ministry of National Defense earlier this month said that it had observed dozens of Chinese fighters, drones, bombers and other aircraft, as well as warships and the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong, operating nearby. The increased frequency of China’s military activities has raised the risk of events “getting out of hand” and sparking an accidental clash, Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said last week. Asked about the spurt
Noting that researchers have found that 85 China-based blogs and accounts were spreading a conspiracy theory that a US “meteorological weapon” had caused recent fires in Hawaii, political observers in Taiwan said the nation also needs to be vigilant of Beijing employing similar disinformation campaigns against Taiwan. The untrue content concerning Hawaii was written in 15 languages and disseminated across a myriad of platforms including Facebook, YouTube and X, a report published in Gizmodo said, citing NewsGuard, an online news content ranker. The effort represented the most expansive Chinese informational operation to be uncovered by NewsGuard to date, Gizmodo said. The conspiracy theory