Briefly: Safety, need compete in typhoon-hit Philippines

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PHILIPPINES

NEW BATAAN — The government’s geological hazard maps show why this farming community was largely washed away by a powerful typhoon: “highly susceptible to flooding and landslides.”

That didn’t stop some villagers from rebuilding Thursday, even with bodies still lying under the mud.

Most of the more than 370 people confirmed dead from Typhoon Bopha were killed in the steep mountain valley that includes New Bataan, a town crisscrossed by rivers and cleared on lush hillsides by banana, coconut, cocoa and mango farmers in 1968.

Flooding was so widespread here that places people thought were safe, including two emergency shelters, became among the deadliest.

In the impoverished Philippines, where the jobless risk life and limb to feed their families, there is little the government can do once such danger zones spring up.

More than 400 people remained missing Thursday after the typhoon struck the southern Philippines this week.

AFGHANISTAN

Spy chief wounded in assassination bid

KABUL — Afghanistan’s intelligence chief was wounded in an assassination attempt in Kabul on Thursday, officials said.

Asadullah Khalid, head of the National Directorate of Security, was injured in a grenade attack in a spy-agency guesthouse, police said.

There were few details on the attack. Police said Mr. Khalid was wounded by a grenade, but unconfirmed reports by senior government officials said it had been a suicide attack.

Mr. Khalid’s condition was not clear immediately, and there was no immediate word on what had happened to the attacker.

SINGAPORE

Chinese bus drivers get bail after strike

SINGAPORE — Four Chinese immigrant bus drivers accused of inciting the city-state’s first labor strike in 26 years have been granted bail in a case that has highlighted growing friction caused by an influx of foreign labor.

A fifth Chinese driver already has been sentenced to six weeks in prison even though prosecutors said he was not an instigator of the strike, which was called to demand equitable pay.

Walking off the job in protest is almost unheard of in Singapore, and the swift prosecution following the Nov. 26-27 strike was a clear sign that the government of this strictly enforced country will not brook any disobedience from its workforce.

Three of the men who appeared in court Thursday were allowed a bail of $8,200.

A fourth driver, He Jun Liang, who faces an additional charge of making an online post in Mandarin, was given a bail of $16,400.

It is not clear if they will be able to raise the money to get out of detention before their case resumes Wednesday.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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