Month in brief

Delhi closes schools to fight pollution

Delhi closes schools to fight pollution

Delhi closed 4,000 schools, halted a number of construction projects and banned some types of heavy trucks as choking smog descended on the Indian capital, prompting the US airline United to cancel flights. Blaming crop burning in surrounding states, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the city had become ‘a gas chamber’. With measures including the winter closure of brick kilns and power plants having failed, authorities ordered vehicles with odd and even numberplates off the road on alternate days.

Citizenship crisis hits Australian government

Citizenship crisis hits Australian governmentAustralia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, lost his parliamentary majority after a sixth MP was forced to quit because of holding dual citizenship, forbidden by the constitution. John Alexander, a former tennis star, was the latest politician to discover he might unwittingly have dual citizenship through being born abroad, or having a foreign-born parent. His departure reduced the governing coalition to 74 MPs, the same as the opposition.

Duterte claims fatal stabbing at 16

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte told Filipinos in Vietnam, where he was attending the Apec summit, that ‘I killed someone’ when he was 16, but his office later said he had been joking. The outspoken leader, who has previously claimed he killed criminal suspects when mayor of the city of Davao, said he stabbed a person as a teenager, when he had been in many fights and ‘in and out of jail’.

Afghan TV covers IS attack on station

Soon after Islamic State stormed an Afghan TV station, journalist Parwiz Sapy was on air to report on the attack. A suicide bomber killed a security guard and at least 24 other people were wounded before security forces ended the siege. ‘Asalam alaikum, Shamshad TV viewers, all staff members inside the building have been rescued,’ Sapy reported. Heappeared with bandaged hands after breaking a window to escape.

Thais complete year of mourning

A year of mourning for Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who reigned for more than 70 years, ended with a five-day funeral. After Buddhist rites in Bangkok’s Grand Palace, where he had lain in state since he died at the age of 88 in October 2016, his body was carried in procession, watched by hundreds of thousands of Thais. His funeral pyre was lit by his son, King Maha Vajiralongkorn.

Wounded N Korean soldier escapes

A North Korean soldier escaped into the South at the ‘truce village’ of Panmunjom despite being hit five times by fire from his comrades. It was the first shooting incident at the jointly controlled area of the heavily fortified border in more than 30 years. After driving into a ditch, the soldier fled on foot, with some 40 shots fired at him. After two operations, his condition was described as ‘very dangerous’.

Fireworks factory disaster kills 49

A fire and explosions caused by welding at a fireworks factory in Indonesia killed 49 of the 103 workers, several of them teenagers, and injured dozens more. The factory, in an industrial area near the capital, Jakarta, had been built only two months previously, but had just one entrance. Many of the dead were found clustered at the back of the building, suggesting they were trying in vain to escape.

Butterfly smugglers jailed

China imposed long jail terms on three people caught smuggling thousands of dead butterflies, many rare or protected, into the country from Malaysia and the Philippines. The butterflies were to have been sold to private collectors in China, who are prepared to pay over 10,000 yuan ($1,500) for a single specimen of the Papilio Chikae, or Luzon peacock swallowtail, one of the most prized species.

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