- - Tuesday, August 24, 2010

CHINA

State TV: 49 rescued after crash

BEIJING | A Chinese passenger jet overshot a runway in the country’s northeast and burst into flames Tuesday, but state television said 49 of the 91 people onboard had been rescued. The fate of the remaining passengers was unclear.

The Henan Airlines plane crashed in Heilongjiang province’s Yichun city, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Xinhua said more than 20 people had been hospitalized.

China Central Television quoted Sun Bangnan, deputy director of the Heilonjiang Public Security Department, as saying that 49 people had been rescued and that the fire had been put out.

The plane had taken off from Heilongjiang’s capital of Harbin shortly before 9 p.m. and crashed during landing at the Lindu airport a little more than an hour later.

An official surnamed Qi at the Yichun No. 1 People’s Hospital said 30 people had been brought there for treatment, with most suffering broken bones.

BRITAIN

Prime minister’s wife gives birth to girl

LONDON | Samantha Cameron, the wife of Britain’s prime minister, gave birth on Tuesday to the couple’s fourth child, a baby girl, while on a family holiday in the southwest of England.

David Cameron, who took office as prime minister in May, said the birth had come as “a bit of a shock” as the baby had not been expected until September, but it had gone very well.

“We’re absolutely thrilled. She is an unbelievably beautiful girl, and I’m a very proud dad,” he told British television channels outside the hospital in the town of Truro, in the picturesque region of Cornwall.

THAILAND

Russian set to be extradited to U.S.

BANGKOK | Thailand will extradite reputed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout to the United States on Wednesday to face terrorism charges, police said, despite strong opposition from Moscow.

Fifty Thai commandos will escort the man dubbed “the Merchant of Death” from a Bangkok prison to a U.S. private jet waiting at the capital’s Don Mueang airport, said Crime Suppression Division acting Chief Supisarn Bhakdinarinath.

“I cannot say the exact time and route because it’s top secret,” he added.

Mr. Bout has been fighting extradition since his March 2008 arrest after a Bangkok sting operation involving U.S. agents posing as Colombian rebels.

CHINA

Senior police officer sentenced for graft

BEIJING | A former high-ranking Chinese police official was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve on Tuesday, the latest official convicted of taking bribes in a nation where government influence and deal-making often cross.

A court in northwest China found Zheng Shaodong, a former assistant minister for public security, guilty of taking bribes worth more than 8.3 million yuan, or $1.2 million, while in that job and earlier while overseeing economic-crimes investigations in southern Guangdong province, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Under Chinese law, the death sentence against Zheng is almost certain to be commuted to life imprisonment after two years, if he does not commit any offenses while in prison.

Official corruption and abuses are among the most widely voiced complaints of Chinese citizens, and leaders of the ruling Communist Party regularly warn that discontent over the problem could erode party rule.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said over the weekend that failure to reform the top-down government could undermine the country’s economic growth and feed official abuses.

Mr. Wen said China suffers “the problem of over-concentration of power with ineffective supervision.”

Earlier Chinese news reports linked Zheng’s fall to a probe of Huang Guangyu, once one of the country’s richest businessmen and the founder of home appliance retailer GOME, who was found guilty in May of bribery, insider trading and illegal business dealings.

From wire dispatches and staff reports