- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 2, 2010


Typhoon kills 4, suspends flights

SEOUL | Typhoon Kompasu struck South Korea Thursday, killing at least four people and toppling trees, streetlights and scaffolding in what was called the strongest storm to hit the Seoul area in 15 years.

Powerful gusts knocked over power lines, cutting off electricity to tens of thousands of homes and forcing airports to cancel or delay more than 60 international flights, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said.

Streets in Seoul were littered with tree branches. Some parked cars were wrecked by construction scaffolding knocked over by the storm.

Service on two Seoul subway lines and five railway routes was suspended, NEMA officials said.


Lawmakers seek apology for Manila hostage crisis

HONG KONG | Hong Kong lawmakers passed a motion Thursday demanding that the Philippine government apologize and pay compensation to the families of eight Hong Kong tourists killed in a hostage bloodbath in Manila last month.

The deaths, after a 12-hour ordeal broadcast live on television around the world, triggered outrage in Hong Kong over the mishandling of the crisis and calls for an investigation into whether the hostages were killed by police or the hijacker.

The lawmakers’ motion asks for a thorough investigation and expresses “strong dissatisfaction at the serious failures” of the Philippine authorities. It also demands “a public apology and compensation to the deceased and injured and their family members.”

The Philippine government has admitted to making a number of errors in its handling of the crisis, which has chilled diplomatic ties with Hong Kong and damaged the Southeast Asian nation’s tourism industry.


Few signs of run on Kabul Bank

KABUL | Larger than usual crowds gathered to withdraw funds from Afghanistan’s largest bank Thursday, but there was little sign that questions surrounding its viability had sparked a major panic.

Nervous customers flocked to Kabul Bank branches on Wednesday to take out their money following the resignation of two top bank executives amid allegations that they had mismanaged funds and spent money on risky real estate ventures.

On Thursday, the crowd at Kabul Bank’s main branch in the center of the Afghan capital was only somewhat larger than normal, following government efforts to reassure the public.

Afghan television stations broadcast remarks Wednesday night from the central bank governor, Abdul Qadir Fitrat, insisting that Kabul Bank was solvent and had enough liquidity to meet demands.


Key lawmaker backs Labor to govern

CANBERRA | Prime Minister Julia Gillard edged closer to retaining power in Australia on Thursday when an independent lawmaker said he would support her center-left Labor Party to form Australia’s first minority government in almost seven decades.

A bloc of three independent kingmakers now will decide whether Labor will govern for a second three-year term or a conservative Liberal Party-led coalition will form the next administration after Aug. 21 elections failed to give any party the majority.

The conservative coalition now needs the backing of all three remaining uncommitted independents to reach a 76-seat majority in the 150-seat House of Representatives, while Labor needs just two.

Independent Andrew Wilkie announced his decision to back Labor after meetings with Miss Gillard and Liberal leader Tony Abbott.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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