Over 1.2m evacuated

BEIJING: More than 1.2 million people were evacuated as Typhoon Matsa pounded the coast of eastern China on Saturday, causing widespread flooding. The storm landed at Ganjiang town in Zhejiang province at 3:40 am and was moving northwest towards six major cities including the scenic and touristy Hangzhou, the Xinhua news agency said. No casualties have been reported so far, but most areas in the coastal province have been lashed by heavy rain. — AFP

New SARS vaccine

BEIJING: China has approved a new vaccine for the pneumonia-like disease Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) to go through human trials, state media reported on Saturday. The vaccine, developed by a Beijing-based inspection and quarantine body, was created in October and is undergoing clinical trials, the China Daily said. Tests on monkeys at Wuhan University in central China’s Hubei province proved successful, the paper cited an official surnamed Dong with the Beijing Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau as saying. — AFP

Bashir plea quashed

JAKARTA: The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by militant cleric Abu Bakar Bashir to overturn a 30-month prison sentence for his role in the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings, a court official said on Saturday. Bashir blasted the decision, accusing the US government of interfering in the judicial process, but victims of the violence said they were far from satisfied. Bashir was convicted in March for conspiracy in the twin bombings that killed 202 people, many of them Australian tourists. — AP