A search for a missing ferry carrying 68 people turned up no trace yesterday, one day after the ship sent word that it was taking on water and sinking southwest of Manila, officials said. \nThe 63-ton vessel Piary left on Saturday from Mapun in Cagayan de Tawi-Tawi, a cluster of islets in the Sulu Sea, and was bound for Brookes Point on Palawan island, 710km southwest of Manila, the coast guard said. \nThe coast guard station at Brookes Point said the ferry radioed its distress call about noon Sunday from some 100km away, to say water was coming through a hole in its wooden hull. \nThe vessel was carrying 68 passengers, including six children, and an unknown number of crew. \nThe Philippine navy said the ferry started sinking shortly after sending the distress call. The passengers and crew had been preparing to abandon the ship and board a life raft, a navy statement said. \nNavy and air force search aircraft have found no trace of the vessel or the survivors. The coast guard said the sea in the area is "very rough" at this time of the year. \nAlso yesterday, air force spokesman Major Restituto Padilla said the force had received sketchy reports that another vessel had capsized in the Pacific Ocean about 335km east of the northern Philippine province of Isabela. \nHe said it was not clear what type of vessel was involved, where it was headed and when it capsized. \nThe area was "too far for our helicopters" to reach, he said. \nEarlier this month, a ferry that had been reported missing in the southern Philippines was found drifting in waters off Indonesia's East Kalimantan region. \nFerries are the chief means of transportation between islands in remote areas in the southern Philippines. Most are poorly maintained and don't carry much safety gear.
Australian scientists have raised questions over the efficacy of the AstraZeneca and University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine in establishing herd immunity, calling for a pause on its widespread rollout as the country recorded one new case of the virus yesterday. Opposition to the vaccine casts a cloud over Australia’s immunization plans, with 53 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab already on hand. “The question is really whether it is able to provide herd immunity. We are playing a long game here. We don’t know how long that will take,” Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology president Stephen Turner said. Turner added
A racing pigeon has survived an extraordinary 13,000km Pacific Ocean crossing from the US to find a new home in Australia. Now authorities consider the bird a quarantine risk and plan to kill it. Kevin Celli-Bird yesterday said he discovered that the exhausted bird that arrived in his Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 last year had disappeared from a race in the US state of Oregon on Oct. 29. Experts suspect the pigeon that Celli-Bird has named Joe — after US president-elect Joe Biden — hitched a ride on a cargo ship to cross the Pacific. Joe’s feat has attracted the attention
China has possibly committed “genocide” in its treatment of Uighurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China said in a report on Thursday. The bipartisan commission said that new evidence had last year emerged that “crimes against humanity — and possibly genocide — are occurring” in Xinjiang. It also accused China of harassing Uighurs in the US. China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, which others have called concentration camps. The UN says that
The Polish Supreme Court on Friday quashed a lower court’s green light for the extradition of a businessman to China for alleged fraud, a charge he has denied, saying that he is being targeted for supporting Falun Gong. Polish authorities took Chinese-born Swedish citizen Li Zhihui, now 53, into custody in 2019 on an international warrant issued by China for alleged non-payment in a business deal, Krzysztof Kitajgrodzki, his Polish lawyer, told reporters. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the case would return to a lower appellate court for review. Kitajgrodzki told reporters that it was still not a given that his client