Malaysian sultan channels Fred Flintstone with new car
Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar of Johor, one of Malaysia’s most powerful and wealthiest state rulers, was given a life-size replica of Fred Flintstone’s car from the classic cartoon. The car, which has an engine so he will not have to power it with his regal feet, was a belated birthday gift from a fellow high-ranking royal. The iconic vehicle from The Flintstones, the sultan’s favourite cartoon, is an accurate likeness of the original, with a wood-like finish on the sides, stone-like finish on the wheels and a cloth roof.
What next: It will take pride of place in a house he built in the southern coastal town of Mersing inspired by the Flintstone’s home from the 1960s cartoon. “Yabba, dabba, doo”, said a post on the sultan’s Facebook page on Monday, using Fred’s favourite catchphrase to announce the arrival of the gift from the crown prince of Pahang state. The car adds to the sultan’s eclectic collection of vehicles, which includes Rolls-Royces and vintage three-wheelers.
Citywide emergency in Japan after sale of poisonous fugu fish
A city in central Japan used its emergency loudspeaker system to try to recall four packages of blowfish meat after discovering a fifth one contained the poisonous and potentially deadly liver. The fish, known as fugu, is an expensive delicacy but requires a licence to prepare because of the dangers of mishandling. The fugu’s liver is mostly toxic, can prove deadly and is banned from sale. Regional health officials said on Tuesday that a supermarket in Gamagori sold five packages of assorted blowfish meat on Monday and the liver parts could have contaminated them with the poison. Health officials say fugu poison cannot be removed by washing or cooking. So far, no one is thought to have died.
What next: Health authorities said the store had been selling the liver of a particular kind of nearly non-toxic blowfish, called “yorito fugu”, or blunthead puffer. The health ministry ordered the store to recall all the blowfish packages and suspend their sale, but the store told officials that it would no longer sell blowfish whatsoever. Last year, 31 people were poisoned, none fatally.
Philippines declares state of calamity as volcano showers ash on villages
A state of calamity was declared for the central Philippine province of Albay this week as the volcano Mount Mayon spewed lava beyond a 6km (3.7-mile) radius and showered ash on nearby farms and villages. The number of people who fled their homes since the volcano started erupting last Saturday reached more than 34,000, according to authorities. Placing the province under a state of calamity gave the province access to extra funds. “This kind of eruption, it will take weeks, so we have to sustain the operations in the evacuation centres,” Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara told local news outlets. “We need to use the calamity funds.”
What next: The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said it had recorded nine more tremors, and that the activity signified a possible hazardous eruption within weeks or even days from the volcano, which stands about 340km southeast of Manila. School classes were suspended, and the buildings used as shelters.
North and South Korea agree to joint Olympics hockey team and march
Talks between North and South Korea this week turned out positive with the nations announcing they would march together under a unified flag during the opening ceremony of next month’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. The pair will also put forward a joint women’s ice hockey team, a first for the Olympics if approved. The talks also resulted in the South agreeing to send its athletes to the North’s Masikryong ski resort for training ahead of the Games, and Pyongyang confirming it would send a 550-member delegation of cheerleaders, athletes, performers and officials to the Olympics.
What next: The joint hockey team angered many South Koreans, with petitions against the idea increasing to more than 100 on the Blue House website – the largest attracting more than 17,000 signatures. The South’s President Moon Jae-in hopes to use the momentum of the Olympics to encourage the North to discuss nuclear disarmament and peace, but Pyongyang says these are not up for negotiation. The two countries were expected to put their unification plans to the International Olympic Committee on Saturday for approval.
Floor collapse at Indonesian stock exchange caused by visiting students
The mezzanine floor of the Indonesian Stock Exchange collapsed this week, causing chaotic scenes and injuring more than 70 people. It gave way under a group of 92 visiting university students, with large slabs of concrete falling around a Starbucks cafe on the floor below. CCTV footage showed the floor shearing away in just a few seconds under the group. “I thought it was an earthquake and I screamed when I saw many of my friends bleeding and covered with dust,” said Betride Septiani, 21. “We didn’t feel any signs like the floor swaying or anything, it was all just so sudden.” Most students fainted or suffered broken bones and concussions.
What next: A government report said the suspended walkway fell because several cables broke away from the ceiling due to a “concentration of weight” where the students had gathered. It said the burden could not be borne by the structure and “triggered a building failure”. The government said a formal investigation was ongoing. Building developer PT Danayasa Arthatama Tbk, part of Artha Graha group, declined to comment.