19 die, dozens buried in north India landslides
DEHRADUN - At least 19 people in northern India died yesterday in landslides and flashfloods following heavy overnight monsoon rains and up to 30 others are missing. The deaths occurred in the early hours after particularly heavy downpours in the Rudraprayag and Bageshwar districts of the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand. A total of 14 bodies were found in four villages in Rudraprayag and five other corpses were found in Bageshwar. Rescue workers estimated that 25 to 30 people remained buried under the rubble in Rudraprayag and many people in the area remain missing. AFP
Quake hits area off Indonesia's Sumatra
JAKARTA - A 6.3-magnitude quake struck off Indonesia's Sumatra island yesterday, the United States Geological Survey said. But no tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The epicentre of the quake, which struck at 11.51am at a depth of 25 kilometres, was 190 kilometres northwest of the town of Bengkulu. Indonesia's Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency said: "There are no reports of damage so far. The quake happened in the sea close to Mentawai island, but no tsunami warning has been issued." AFP
Maldives bans men, women from dancing
COLOMBO - The Maldives moved to limit dancing in public between men and women, a press report said. It comes amid signs of the growing influence of the nation's hardline religious party. The Islamic affairs ministry sent a circular "to all government institutions banning the holding of any mixed-gender dance events", the private Minivan newspaper said, quoting guidelines issued on Thursday. The ministry also ordered a ban on events where adolescent girls were required to dance, the report said, adding that the directives were intended for state bodies and citizens. "Events such as children's activities, performances exhibiting military skills, parades, playing the national anthem … are acceptable forms of entertainment," it said. AFP
South Korea buys back ex-Washington home
WASHINGTON - A grand red-brick house in Washington which housed the first Korean diplomatic mission in the US more than a century ago until Japan bought it for a nominal US$5 shortly before annexing Korea in 1910 has been reacquired by South Korea for US$3.5 million. South Korea now plans to use the building to showcase its history - a jab at modern-day Japan at a time when tensions between the two countries have been growing. The South Korean embassy said the sale of the building 102 years ago was forced and "symbolically demonstrates imperial Japan's plunder".