Flood sweeps away 18

BEIJING: Eighteen people, including 12 children, were swept away and remain missing after flood waters breached a reservoir dam in central China, officials said on Friday. “Eighteen people are missing. We are still looking for them,” an official surnamed Chen from the Enshi city government said. The water poured over the dam at the Dalongtan Reservoir in Hubei province on Thursday afternoon, sweeping away four construction workers and a coach carrying 12 children, one teacher and one driver, Xinhua news agency reported. — AFP

Cops held in Pakistan

KARACHI: Five Pakistani policemen were arrested for failing to prevent two car bombs being planted near the US consul general’s residence in a high security area of Karachi, police said on Friday. The officers were supposed to be manning a checkpoint controlling vehicles coming into the usually well-guarded street, which houses the US diplomat’s residence and the non-affiliated Pakistan-American Cultural Centre. — AFP

Plane crashes in China

BEIJING: A small business plane heading for Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei province, has crashed, state media reported on Friday. The plane came down in Hunan province, which neighbours Hubei, the Xinhua news agency said. There were no immediate details on how many people were on board or what caused the crash. Xinhua, citing the Hunan Provincial Administration for Supervision of Safety in Workplaces, said the plane took off from Guilin, a tourist city in southern Guangxi region at 0248 GMT. — AFP

Held for nuke trafficking

KUALA LUMPUR: A key figure in a Pakistan-based nuclear trafficking network was arrested in Malaysia on Friday, government officials said. Buhary Syed Abu Tahir, a Sri Lankan businessman who allegedly worked with disgraced Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan to sell nuclear secrets to rogue states, was detained for threatening Malaysia’s national security, officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. US President George W. Bush described Tahir in February as “both the network’s chief financial officer and money launderer.” — AFP

Food poisoning sickens 47

BEIJING: A funeral dinner sickened 47 people in northwestern China, the government said on Friday, the latest in a string of food poisoning cases that have plagued the country. Some 186 people attended the dinner this week in Yongning, a county in the Ningxia region, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The guests became sick shortly after eating food, suffering from nausea, vomiting and a high fever. Ten people were still hospitalised. A preliminary investigation found that the food had been unclean and had been cooked in a makeshift kitchen by three villagers. — AFP

US leaders’ effigies burnt

SRINAGAR: Muslim protesters in Kashmir burned effigies of US and British leaders as thousands took to the streets on Friday to denounce the shelling in Iraq of Shiite Islam’s holiest shrine. More than 2,500 people marched in the central Kashmir town of Budgam, which has a large Shiite population, and torched models of US President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, witnesses said. — AFP

Troops for UN mission

Colombo: Sri Lanka, torn by a two-decade separatist war, will make its first-ever large-scale contribution to the United Nations’ peacekeeping missions, a military spokesman said on Friday. Taking advantage of a two-year ceasefire with Tamil rebels, Sri Lanka Light Infantry, the country’s oldest regiment, will provide 800 men for peace missions soon, military spokesman Sumedha Perera said. “This is the first time we are sending a full fledged battalion,” Perera said, adding that the United Nations would decide where the troops would be sent. Until now the South Asian nation has been contributing only four or five soldiers a year to UN missions. — AFP