- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 18, 2004


Recklessness kills hundreds of tourists

BANGKOK — A volatile mix of Viagra, alcohol and reckless motorbike riding takes a heavy toll on tourists to this country, and every year hundreds fail to survive their vacation in the kingdom.

“The tourist death toll amounts to more than two Bali bomb attacks every year, just from recklessness,” said Steven Martin, co-author of the “Lonely Planet Thailand” guide book.

“At home, people wouldn’t dream of having a few margaritas, renting a motorcycle without a license and then riding around in a bikini and no helmet. It’s the holiday mind frame,” he said.

Of the 9.7 million tourists to Thailand last year, British citizens had the highest number of deaths — 148 — followed by 137 Americans, 120 Germans and 73 Japanese.


Li to visit Pyongyang over nuclear impasse

BEIJING — Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing will make a rare trip to North Korea next week, a spokesman said yesterday, as Beijing ramps up preparations for further consultations on Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said Mr. Li’s March 23-25 trip would be the first official visit by a Chinese foreign minister to North Korea in five years.


Rebel leader slain in Aceh province

BANDA ACEH — The Indonesian military announced yesterday that it had fatally shot a key figure in the self-styled government proclaimed by separatist rebels in Aceh province.

Alpian, 39, a sub-district chief for the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) chapter in the Meukek area, died in a skirmish Wednesday, said a military spokesman. Troops seized ammunition and GAM flags from the dead man. The rebels had no comment.

Separately, a police chief in Bireuen district in northern Aceh said the rebels had fatally shot a 48-year-old village chief on Wednesday.

Weekly notes

Japan’s Justice Ministry said yesterday that it will review an online service for reporting suspected illegal immigrants after protests from human rights groups. The service, set up Feb. 16, encourages people to anonymously reveal the identity, workplace and address of suspected illegal foreign residents to the Immigration Bureau by e-mail. Providers of medical and counseling services to foreigners say the reporting scheme promotes racial discrimination and stigmatizes foreigners. … Eleven Philippine fishermen were rescued by two Vietnamese boats near the disputed Spratly Islands after their vessel was badly damaged in a storm, the Philippine Embassy in Hanoi said yesterday. The fishermen were handed over to embassy officials Wednesday in coastal Quy Nhon city after a six-day ordeal at sea. The Spratlys, a potentially oil-rich chain of islands about 300 miles off southern Vietnam, are claimed by six countries and are a source of regional tension.

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