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BANGKOK: A motorcycle bomb wounded six people in southern Thailand yesterday, a day after a landmark agreement between the government and a Muslim rebel group to start talks aimed at ending a conflict that has claimed more than 5,000 lives since 2004. No group claimed responsibility for the device, which exploded outside a market in Narathiwat province.
HK cracks down on baby formula trade
HONG KONG: A Hong Kong regulation came into force yesterday barring people from crossing into mainland China with large quantities of baby formula following chronic shortages which have fuelled anti-Beijing sentiment. The formula is popular with mainland Chinese because of concerns about the safety of food processed in China. The measures prevent people from taking more than 1.8kg (four pounds) or about two cans of the formula across the border to crack down on “parallel traders”.
Taiwan fire drill on disputed island
TAIPEI: Taiwan’s coastguard yesterday said it would stage a live fire exercise next month in disputed South China Sea islands, a move that could raise regional tensions. The drill will take place on Taiping Island between April 9 and 11 in the Spratlys, a sprawling group of islands claimed in whole or part by Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei. Taiping is the biggest island in the Spratlys. All claimants except Brunei have troops based on the archipelago of more than 100 islets, reefs and atolls.
Cambodia’s bid to stop deadly bird flu
PHNOM PENH: Phnom Penh yesterday ordered urgent action to stem the “worrying” number of bird flu deaths in Cambodia. Prime Minister Hun Sen asked police, agriculture and health departments to combat the virus, which has killed eight people since the beginning of the year, the worst recorded outbreak in a nation that has seen 27 bird flu deaths in a decade.
Airline says sorry to shark victim’s mom
WELLINGTON: Budget airline Jetstar yesterday apologised after refusing to allow the grieving mother of a New Zealand man killed in a shark attack to change her flight on compassionate grounds. Jeanette Strange of Wellington was booked to travel from the capital to Auckland next week but tried to move the flight forward on Wednesday after learning her son Adam had been mauled by a shark while swimming. Strange’s sister Kay Cresswell said she called Jetstar and told her about the tragedy but the airline refused to fly her to Auckland to be with her son’s devastated family unless she paid an NZ$321 ($265) fare change fee.
Pilot nodded off
WELLINGTON: Air New Zealand said yesterday that one of its pilots fell into deep sleep while at the controls of an international flight but insisted that safety aboard the aircraft was never compromised. He was one of two pilots flying a 332-seat Boeing 777-300ER from London to Los Angeles in November 2011, according to a report released after a freedom of information request. He voluntarily submitted a “fatigue report” , recounting how he slept on the job. He blamed a poor night’s rest in London.