New Zealand pilot taken hostage by separatists in Indonesia

A New Zealand pilot has been taken hostage by separatist fighters in Indonesia’s Papua region who have threatened to kill him. The man was taken after his plane was set alight when it landed in the mountainous district of Nduga. Five passengers who were on board, including a young child, are thought to have been released. The separatists want Indonesia to recognise the independence of the province of West Papua. Police have said they are investigating the incident – but say this is logistically difficult as the area can only be reached by air. The pilot has been named as … Continue reading New Zealand pilot taken hostage by separatists in Indonesia

Japan hunts for person who faxed bomb threats to schools

Japanese police are on the hunt for a person who sent bomb and death threats to hundreds of schools, prompting hasty closures. The threats were faxed to high schools and universities earlier this week from a Tokyo-registered number. No explosives have been found in school buildings, according to police, and there have been no reports of attacks on pupils and staff so far. Bomb threats are rare in Japan, which is known for its low crime rate. The first wave of messages began on Monday, reaching schools and universities across the country. In one prefecture, Saitama, more than 170 schools … Continue reading Japan hunts for person who faxed bomb threats to schools

Several people evacuated in outbreak of fire at South Korean slum

Hundreds of people have had to be evacuated after a fire broke out in a shanty town in South Korea’s capital, Seoul. Roughly 60 homes are reported to have been destroyed in Friday morning’s blaze in Guryong Village. There have been no reports of deaths or injuries. South Korean media has described the area of closely packed makeshift homes as the capital’s last remaining slum. It took more than 900 firefighters and several helicopters five hours to put out the blaze. President Yoon Suk-yeol called for all-out efforts to minimise the damage and mobilise all available firefighters and equipment, according … Continue reading Several people evacuated in outbreak of fire at South Korean slum

Kazakhstan strips ex-president’s family of legal immunity

Kazakhstan’s parliament on Friday repealed a law that gave former president Nursultan Nazarbayev’s immediate family immunity from prosecution, and took away his status as a leader of the nation. Nazarbayev, 82, ran the oil-rich Central Asian nation between 1989-2019, and created a personality cult during his three decades at the helm. He initially retained sweeping powers when he resigned and nominated close ally Kassym-Jomart Tokayev as a successor. But the two politicians appeared to fall out early last year amid violent protests across the former Soviet republic which Tokayev said were part of an attempted coup; 238 people were killed … Continue reading Kazakhstan strips ex-president’s family of legal immunity

Tragic: Hope is fading for Vietnamese boy trapped in pillar

There is “limited” hope over rescuing a 10-year-old Vietnamese boy who has been trapped in a concrete pillar for three days, rescuers say. Thai Ly Hao Nam fell into the 25cm (12-inch) wide shaft of the pillar while looking for scrap metal in southern Vietnam on New Year’s Eve. Soldiers and engineering experts have been removing mud and water in an attempt to bring the pillar up. The boy is likely to be badly injured if he does survive, one official said. “Hope for him to be alive is limited,” said Doan Tan Buu, a local official in Dong Thap … Continue reading Tragic: Hope is fading for Vietnamese boy trapped in pillar

Thailand navy ship sinks stranding more than 100 sailors

A Thai naval ship capsized during a storm in the Gulf of Thailand on Sunday night, leaving more than 100 sailors needing to be rescued. Authorities said there were still 28 sailors stranded in the water on Monday, after the HTMAS Sukhotai sank. No fatalities have been reported, but three crew members are in a critical condition. Officials said the ship went down after it took on water, flooding its hull and short-circuiting its power room. With the power lost, crew battled to retain control of the ship which listed onto its side before sinking around 23:30 local time Sunday. … Continue reading Thailand navy ship sinks stranding more than 100 sailors

India and China troops clash on Arunachal Pradesh mountain border

India says its forces have clashed with Chinese troops in a disputed area along the border, the first such flare-up in more than a year. The nations had been working to de-escalate tensions since a major clash killed at least 24 troops in 2020. But on Monday, the Indian army said there had been a clash in the Tawang sector of Arunachal Pradesh state last Friday, the eastern tip of India. Both sides were involved with a few soldiers suffering minor injuries. China is yet to comment on the stand off. But Reuters reported an Indian army source saying at … Continue reading India and China troops clash on Arunachal Pradesh mountain border

Parliament calls for minister to be dismissed over South Korea Halloween crush

South Korea’s parliament has passed a motion calling for the dismissal of the interior minister over the government’s response to the Itaewon crush. Lee Sang-min has been facing mounting pressure to step down following the incident that killed 156 people and injured 152 others on 29 October. The opposition-controlled assembly passed the motion on Sunday. But President Yoon Suk-yeol is widely expected to reject calls for his minister’s resignation. The Democratic Party has threatened to impeach the minister if the president rejects the motion, Yonhap News Agency reports. The Interior Ministry oversees South Korea’s police, who have been criticised for … Continue reading Parliament calls for minister to be dismissed over South Korea Halloween crush

South Korea aims to standardised country’s age system from 2023

South Koreans are set to become one or even two years younger, at least on official paperwork. On Thursday, the South Korean parliament passed a law to scrap Korea’s two traditional methods of counting age. From June 2023, the so-called “Korean Age” system will no longer be permitted on official documents. Only the standardised, internationally recognised method will remain. The government is fulfilling a campaign promise to reduce confusion by adopting the same system used in the rest of the world. Currently, the most widely used calculation method in Korea is the so-called “Korean age system”, in which a person … Continue reading South Korea aims to standardised country’s age system from 2023

Indonesia passes criminal code banning sex outside of marriage

Indonesia’s parliament on Tuesday approved a new criminal code that will make sex outside of marriage punishable by up to a year in prison. It is part of a raft of changes that critics say erode political freedom. The new criminal code will not come into effect for another three years and also includes a ban on insulting the president and expressing views that run counter to state ideology. Small groups held protests outside the parliament in Jakarta this week. The code – which will apply to both Indonesians and foreigners – includes several “morality” laws and makes it illegal … Continue reading Indonesia passes criminal code banning sex outside of marriage

Update: Indonesia raises alert to highest level as volcano erupts on Mount Semeru

Indonesia’s Mount Semeru volcano has erupted, sending ash billowing into the sky and sparking evacuations on the country’s main island, Java. Authorities raised the volcano’s warning status to the highest level, meaning its activity had escalated. No injuries have been reported but nearly 2,000 people were evacuated from the area around the volcano. People have been urged to keep at least 8 km (5 miles) away, as “hot avalanches” of lava poured from Semeru. The increased threat level from three to four also means the danger threatens people’s homes, a spokesman for Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation … Continue reading Update: Indonesia raises alert to highest level as volcano erupts on Mount Semeru

North Korea hit with sanctions after ballistic missile tests

The US and its Asian allies have imposed sanctions on three North Korean senior officials associated with the country’s recent missile tests. Pyongyang launched a record number of ballistic missiles more than 60 – this year, and tested several intercontinental ballistic missiles. Jon Il Ho, Yu Jin, and Kim Su Gil allegedly “played major roles” in developing the weapons. Japan, South Korea, and the EU have also imposed sanctions. North Korea has faced tough sanctions imposed by Western countries for years. Under these new sanctions, all US-based assets of the North Korean officials will be frozen. They will be barred … Continue reading North Korea hit with sanctions after ballistic missile tests