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From The Asian Reporter, V30, #03 (February 3, 2020), page 2.

Leopard runs into house before being captured in India

HYDERABAD, India (AP) — A leopard that ran into a house and sparked a frantic search and a frenzy of attention in southern India was caught and tranquilized. The big cat emerged from the Kamdanam forest and ran into a house in Shadnagar town in Telangana state, said Dr. Mohammad Abdul Hakeem, a wildlife official. After people were evacuated from the immediate area, wildlife officials worked to catch the animal and residents swarmed to watch and snap photos. A video shot by a resident showed the leopard resting on the terrace of a house. The leopard was transported to the zoo for observation. Deadly conflict between humans and animals has increased in recent years in India largely due to shrinking forest habitats and urban expansion. According to official data, 224 people in India were killed in the last five years by tigers. India is home to 70% of tigers in the world.

Japan’s former Emperor Akihito better day after fainting

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s 86-year-old former Emperor Akihito fainted at his residence though he regained strength after a good night’s sleep, the palace said. Akihito underwent an MRI of his brain that showed no clinical condition that could cause a fall, but doctors recommended close monitoring of his health for a while, according to the Imperial Household Agency. Akihito abdicated last April and now holds the title of Emperor Emeritus. His wife Michiko was at his side when Akihito fainted at the Imperial Palace and she called the palace doctor, palace officials said. The doctor found Akihito still unconscious and sounding as if he was snoring. He regained consciousness and went to bed but woke up normally the next morning, officials said. The popular former emperor had symptoms of cerebral anemia, or low red blood cell count, last July, when he briefly had difficulty standing, officials said. Akihito reigned for 30 years and gained widespread respect and sympathy as a politically neutral symbol of the nation and for his dedication to pacifism. Akihito’s son, Naruhito, ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne May 1 last year.

Over 100 makeshift homes destroyed in Pakistan fire

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — A massive fire burned more than 100 burlap-and-plastic shelters in the southern port city of Karachi, forcing hundreds of poor nomads to spend the night in the open amid winter temperatures, but there were no casualties, police said. It was unclear what caused the evening fire in the city’s Teenhatti neighborhood, where hundreds of nomad families live in makeshift homes, area police chief Liaquat Hayyat said. He said firefighters quickly doused the flames but they could not save the 100 or so makeshift homes. TV footage showed a massive fire sweeping through the shelters as dwellers cried for help. One tearful woman whose makeshift home was burned told reporters in a televised comment that the dowry for her daughter’s marriage she worked for years to build was gutted by the blaze in minutes. Another woman sat next to her burned up makeshift home and said she was still waiting for help from the government. Hours after the fire, inhabitants were seen retrieving utensils and other items from the ashes. Authorities say the government will provide tents to those who lost homes in the fire. Karachi is the capital of southern Sindh province, where thousands of nomads live in open areas along the Lyari canal. Some have tin roofs but the majority of the houses are made up of cane, burlap, and plastic. Male members of the families work as laborers while nomad women and children either beg on the streets or work as maids in nearby homes.

Crowded footbridge breaks over Indonesian river, killing 9

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A footbridge on Indonesia’s Sumatra island broke while it was packed with people and several fell into the overflowing river below and drowned, officials said. Nine bodies were pulled from the water as far as 12.4 miles from the bridge that broke in Kaur district of Bengkulu province. Rescuers continued to search for a 14-year-old boy still missing and feared dead, said Ujang Syafiri, who heads a local disaster mitigation agency. About 30 people, most of them teenagers, had just returned from a tour at a nearby hydropower plant and stopped on the footbridge to take photos of the extreme flow of the river. "It was apparently (beyond) its capacity. Some teens even had rocked the bridge while joking," Syafiri said. He said about 20 survivors were rescued and one was hospitalized with serious injuries. Photos released by the agency showed rescuers using an inflatable boat while they searched for victims near the broken bridge and villagers using bamboo and clothes to carry a body. Seasonal rains in recent weeks have caused severe flooding and landslides in Indonesia. Many of the nation’s nearly 270 million people live in mountainous areas prone to landslides or plains close to rivers that flood regularly. The archipelago of 17,000 islands also has frequent seismic and volcanic activity.

Pakistan gas cylinder explosion kills 11 in perfume factory

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — A massive explosion and fire triggered by a gas cylinder explosion engulfed a small perfume factory in eastern Pakistan, killing at least 11 people, rescuer workers and police said. Two people were also injured in the blast, which caused the roof of the factory to collapse in flames, said Rana Izhar, an official with the state-run emergency service in the city of Lahore. He said the explosion was so powerful it damaged nearby homes as well. Hospital officials said one of the injured was in critical condition. Gas cylinder explosions and other similar accidents are common in Pakistan, mainly due to insufficient enforcement of safety standards and poor infrastructure. Police and emergency workers said it was not immediately clear what caused the gas cylinder to explode.

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