Powerful quakes hit
A series of earthquakes struck off the South Pacific island nation yesterday, causing minor damage, but there were no immediate reports of injuries. Local tsunami advisories were issued, but later lifted. No tsunami was recorded. The US Geological Survey said a magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck at 3:55am at a depth of 40.6km. Its epicenter was 63km south-southwest of the capital, Port-Vila. The temblor was followed by several aftershocks, including a magnitude 7.0 quake that struck at 5:19am at a depth of 28.5km. Its epicenter was 69km south-southwest of Port-Vila. The Geohazards Observatory said it issued four local tsunami advisories that were lifted after about two hours. The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center did not issue a warning. Some minor damage was reported in the southern part of the country and in the surrounding areas of Port-Vila.
Minibus falls into gorge
At least 21 people were killed and more than a dozen injured on Saturday when an overcrowded minibus plunged into a gorge in Kashmir, police said. The accident took place in southern Poonch District, a police spokesman said, adding that 15 injured passengers were in a critical condition. “So far we have 21 confirmed deaths,” the spokesman said, adding that it was feared the toll would rise. The speeding bus rolled down into a gorge while negotiating a sharp curve in the mountains of Poonch, police said.
Plane crashes in airshow
A Red Arrows pilot died on Saturday when his plane crashed following an acrobatic air display over the southern coast, defense officials said. Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging’s Hawk jet crashed in a field at Throop village several hundred meters from Bournemouth airport after taking part in the nearby air show with the famous team from the Royal Air Force (RAF). The 33-year-old, who previously served in Afghanistan with the RAF and was known to colleagues as “Eggman,” was thrown from the plane when it crashed at about 1:50pm, emergency services said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. After the air show, Egging was coming in to land, but his jet lost height and flew meters above the ground before crashing into a field and ending with its nose in a river, witnesses said. Officials said it was too early to speculate on what could have caused the crash.
UN rights envoy arrives
A UN rights envoy arrived yesterday for the first time in more than a year for talks with senior government officials, amid signs the regime is seeking to engage its critics. Tomas Ojea Quintana, the UN special rapporteur on human rights for the country, was due to meet the foreign and home ministers in Naypyidaw before attending parliament today, officials said. He has been a vocal critic of the country’s rulers, enraging the generals after his last trip by suggesting that human rights violations in the country may amount to crimes against humanity and could warrant a UN inquiry. The international community has called for a number of reforms, including the release of about 2,000 political prisoners. UN spokesman Aye Win in Yangon confirmed that Quintana had arrived yesterday and would stay for five days. He is scheduled to meet opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi in Yangon on Wednesday, a spokesman for her party said, in what would be the first talks between the Argentine lawyer and the democracy icon.
Prosecutors, lawyer to meet
The lawyer for the woman who accused former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault said on Saturday that he believes prosecutors plan to dismiss some or all of the charges. Attorney Kenneth Thompson told the New York Times that he got a letter from an assistant district attorney offering to meet with his client today, before Strauss-Kahn’s next scheduled court appearance tomorrow. The letter said the purpose was to discuss what would happen in court tomorrow. It said prosecutors would only meet the woman at 3pm. “Should she not be available or should she fail to attend, I will assume that she does not wish to take advantage of this opportunity,” wrote prosecutor Artie McConnell, an assistant district attorney.
Fortune-telling scam busted
Prosecutors say a South Florida family of gypsies amassed US$40 million in a fortune-telling scam, warning victims that if they didn’t follow their advice, terrible things would happen to them or their loved ones. Details spilled out in federal court on Friday after eight people were arrested earlier last week. Assistant US Attorney Laurence Bardfeld said victims who were going through vulnerable phases forked over cash, gold coins and jewelry. The defendants promised victims they wouldn’t spend the money, but then refused to return it. The Sun Sentinel reported that one victim, a bestselling author, gave an estimated US$20 million.
Times Square gets nude art
Times Square used to be known for its seedy peep shows. There was skin on display again on Friday, but this time in the name of art. Painter Andy Golub caused a stir when he had a 23-year-old model undress and began slathering paint on her body. It is legal for women to go topless in the city, but the New York Post reported that police stepped in and asked Golub to do something about the large crowd. The woman put on a sports bra and Golub kept painting. It was his second try at putting on the performance. He was charged with public lewdness last month after having two models take off all their clothes. He avoided trouble this time by having model Marla Mera wear a G-string.
Charges laid over slaying
Three people have been charged in the slaying of a fledgling New York City rapper whose burned body was found last week in a sport utility vehicle parked on a New Jersey street. Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli says 30-year-old Randy Manning of Brooklyn faces charges including felony murder and witness tampering in the death of Rhian Stoute, a 33-year-old Brooklyn resident who performed under the name Kampane. Manning’s girlfriend and a friend of his were both charged with hindering his apprehension.
Crash kills three generations
A family returning to New York from Disney World was devastated when women representing three generations were killed in a wreck on an interstate highway in eastern North Carolina. Trooper G.G. Barnes of the North Carolina Highway Patrol said early yesterday that a 22-year-old woman, her mother and grandmother were killed on Saturday when the family’s SUV blew a tire on northbound Interstate-95. The driver then lost control and the vehicle overturned. Five other family members in the vehicle remain hospitalized with non-life
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable
SURGE CONTINUES: India recorded its steepest spike of more than 57,000 new virus cases in 24 hours, as Vietnam went from no virus deaths to reporting three South Korean prosecutors yesterday arrested the elderly leader of a secretive religious sect as part of an investigation into allegations that the church hampered the government’s COVID-19 response after thousands of worshipers were infected in February and March. Prosecutors in the central city of Suwon have been questioning 88-year-old Lee Man-hee, chairman of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, over charges that the church hid some members and underreported gatherings to avoid broader quarantines. The Suwon District Court granted prosecutors’ request to arrest Lee over concerns that he could temper with evidence. Lee and his church have steadfastly denied the accusations, saying they are