Coal mine mishap

BEIJING: A fire in a coal mine in central China killed at least 25 workers, and search efforts continued for at least three others trapped underground, state media reported on Wednesday. The Xinhua News Agency said underground cables caught fire Tuesday afternoon at the Lisheng coal mine in Xiangtan city in Hunan province. The owner of the mine and a senior employee were detained, Xinhua said. Sixteen more bodies were recovered Wednesday about 540 metres below the surface, bringing the death toll to 25, it said. More than 70 workers were underground when the fire started and 43 managed to escape, it said. Rescue workers were searching for the remaining miners, who were thought to be on another mining platform at least 600 metres underground, Xinhua said.

Boat sinks; 11 missing

SINGAPORE: Singapore rescuers were searching for 11 missing Indonesian crewmen after a tugboat sank Wednesday off the coast of the city-state. The Singapore-registered Ocean Lark went down off Pedra Branca island, 54 km off the east coast, the Maritime and Port Authority said in a statement. Two of the boat’s 13 crew members were rescued by another ship and the air force and navy were searching for the other 11, the port authority said. Officials were investigating why the boat sank. Singapore’s port is the world’s busiest in terms of shipping tonnage.

Japan’s FM quits

TOKYO : Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama accepted the resignation on Wednesday of the ailing finance minister, who was hospitalised for exhaustion while preparing stimulus measures to address the economic slowdown. Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii, 77, tendered his resignation overnight, and local media initially reported Hatoyama wanted him to stay. Fujii, who has a history of high blood pressure, spent several tough weeks late last year churning out a record 92.29 billion yen ($1 trillion) budget. The government is also trying to pass a 7.2 trillion yen ($78 billion) stimulus package. He checked into a hospital on December 28 for checkups and to get some rest. Fujii has stayed under the care of doctors at a Tokyo hospital but leaves to visit his offices during the day.