Top Asian News at 1:30 p.m. GMT
(Associated Press Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Bombs kill 9 at Myanmar New Year water festivalYANGON, Myanmar (AP) _ Three bombs ripped through traditional New Year festivities in Myanmar's biggest city of Yangon Thursday, killing nine people and injuring 75 others, officials and state television said. There was no indication who was behind the blasts, which occurred at about 3 p.m. near some 20 pavilions erected for the celebrations at the sprawling Kandawgyi Lake. Myanmar is celebrating the annual four-day water festival, when people drench each other with water to usher in the Myanmar New Year on Saturday.
Bodies pile up after quake kills 600-plus in ChinaMADOI, China (AP) _ Rescue teams fought gusty winds and altitude sickness Thursday as survivors faced a second night outside in freezing weather after strong earthquakes left more than 600 dead and 9,000 hurt in a mountainous Tibetan area of western China. Rescuers, tired from the high winds and thin oxygen, pulled survivors and more bodies from the pulverized remains of the town flattened by Wednesday morning's quake, the largest of which was magnitude 6.9. About 15,000 houses have collapsed.
NATO: 4 service members die in north AfghanistanKABUL (AP) _ NATO says four international service members have been killed in fighting in northern Afghanistan. A NATO statement said the four died Thursday but gave no further details, including nationalities.
Gunfire at deposed president's rally in KyrgyzstanOSH, Kyrgyzstan (AP) _ Gunfire broke out at a rally where the deposed president of Kyrgyzstan was speaking to supporters Thursday. Kurmanbek Bakiyev was hustled into a car and driven from the scene, and there were no apparent injuries in the crowd. Bakiyev, accompanied by two of his brothers, returned to his home compound in the village of Teyit about two hours later. He made no comment.
Aid arrives after cyclone kills 121 in IndiaCALCUTTA, India (AP) _ Aid workers distributed rice, dried fruit, water and tarpaulins Thursday to victims of a ferocious cyclone that killed at least 121 people in northeastern India and demolished ten of thousands of mud huts. Rescuers cleared hundreds of uprooted trees and electricity poles blocking roads to the devastated areas in Bihar state, said Sharwan Kumar, a state administrator. Telephone services also were restored in most of the region after a 30-hour interruption.
Obama on Afghan: We can't be there in perpetuitySYDNEY (AP) _ Defending his troop surge strategy, President Barack Obama said Thursday that things in Afghanistan are getting better not worse and his plans to start withdrawing U.S. forces next year are on track. In an interview with Australian television ahead of an Asian visit, Obama also indicated that Washington will maintain efforts to get China, India and other developing countries to make further commitments to fighting global warming.
SKorea hoists sunken warship, finds dead bodiesSEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ South Korea lifted part of a warship from the sea Thursday, nearly three weeks after it mysteriously exploded and sank with dozens of sailors trapped inside. Salvage workers found dead bodies of 32 crew members in the retrieved vessel. Fifty-eight crew members were rescued shortly after the 1,200-ton Cheonan split into two pieces after exploding March 26 during a routine patrol near the tense border with North Korea. So far, 34 bodies have been recovered, while 12 sailors remain unaccounted for.
Pakistan Senate passes bill cutting prez powersISLAMABAD (AP) _ Pakistan's Senate has passed a constitutional amendment stripping the president of powers inherited from the country's former military ruler. The approval is a key step toward implementing the opposition's demands and could reduce political pressure on U.S.-allied Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari.
Fireworks in NKorea to celebrate Kim birthdaySEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ North Korean leader Kim Jong Il marked the "Day of the Sun" _ the anniversary of late father's birth 98 years ago Thursday _ by promoting 100 loyal generals while Pyongyang residents thronged riverbanks to watch a "kaleidoscope" of fireworks, reports said. Soldiers and citizens in the isolated communist state clapped and laughed as fireworks lit up the skies above the Taedong River on Wednesday night, according to footage shot by broadcaster APTN in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.
Thai troops clear protest area vacated after clashBANGKOK (AP) _ Thai troops cleared the gutted remains of armored carriers Thursday after anti-government protesters vacated the site of last week's bloody clashes and shifted to an upscale shopping district to intensify their campaign to oust the prime minister. The Red Shirt protesters vow their new encampment in the Rajprasong shopping area, several miles (kilometers) from the old camp in Phan Fa, will be the final battlefront in their bid to have Parliament dissolved and new elections held.
Protesters rally in Indonesia after deadly clashJAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Hundreds of demonstrators descended Thursday on City Hall to demand that Jakarta's public security force be disbanded following bloody clashes over a Muslim tomb that left three dead and 156 wounded near a key seaport. The protesters chanted "God is Great" and some threw rocks at a billboard bearing the photo of Jakarta's governor. More than 1,000 police were deployed to the area, which is near the U.S. Embassy in the central part of the capital, city spokesman Cucu Kurnia said.
Abu Sayyaf gunmen seize 5 villagers in PhilippinesMANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Fleeing Abu Sayyaf gunmen behind a failed plot to take over a southern Philippine city briefly seized five villagers Thursday to guide them away from a massive military manhunt, officials said. Seven Abu Sayyaf militants freed their captives after they pointed the way out of a rubber plantation in Lamitan township on Basilan island while the militants fled government troops who have pursued them for two days, regional military commander Lt. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino said.
Company: Chinese cyberattack targets AustraliaSYDNEY (AP) _ A company in Australia came under a cyberattack from China that was intense enough to slow traffic on part of the country's second-largest broadband network, company officials said Thursday. Among companies affected were Australian Associated Press, the national news agency, and the Australian branch of Rupert Murdoch's News Ltd., but they were not the targets, said the telecommunications company Optus.
Shipmaster took 90 minutes to report reef crashSYDNEY (AP) _ The master of a Chinese coal carrier that ran aground and cut a long gash in the Great Barrier Reef didn't alert Australian authorities to the crash for an hour and a half, investigators said Thursday. A preliminary report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau said the Shen Neng 1 slammed into the reef and shuddered to a halt just after 5 p.m. on April 3, but noted it was not until 6:40 that the master reported the grounding to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
Tonga appoints prosecutors over ferry sinkingNUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (AP) _ Tonga appointed foreign prosecutors Thursday to help decide whether to file additional criminal charges over a deadly ferry sinking last year, and the country's top law officer warned that senior government figures were not immune from the investigation. Attorney General John Cauchi said the two special prosecutors from Australia and New Zealand will work with police to decide who should be tried for their parts in the purchase, operation and sinking of the Princess Ashika.
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