- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 16, 2005


Agreement with China allows direct flights

MACAO — China and Taiwan agreed yesterday to allow the first direct flights between the rivals in five decades — a major breakthrough that could help reduce tensions in one of Asia’s most dangerous potential flashpoints.

The agreement allows a total of 48 round-trip charter flights to carry Taiwanese working in China home and back during the Chinese New Year holiday next month, Chinese negotiator Pu Zhaozhou said.

Taiwan had banned direct flights since the communists won a bloody civil war in 1949 and took over the mainland. The self-ruled, democratic island had prohibited the flights because of security concerns with China, which has repeatedly threatened to use force to unify the two sides.


Earthquake simulator to promote safety

TOKYO — Japanese researchers yesterday introduced the world’s largest earthquake simulator, designed to help save lives in future temblors, just days before the 10th anniversary of the devastating Kobe earthquake.

The machine will educate people on how to build homes and offices more capable of withstanding the destructive power generated by the movement of the earth’s crust, said Takahito Inoue of the Hyogo Earthquake Engineering Research Center.

The 7.3-magnitude Kobe earthquake flattened houses, tore through office towers and ripped up roads. The vital port area was wrecked, and parts of it sank into liquefied landfill. More than 6,400 people were killed in the Jan. 17, 1995, quake.


Muslim pilgrims pray for tsunami victims

MECCA — Pilgrims streaming into Islam’s holy city for the annual hajj prayed for 157,000 people killed in last month’s tsunami that devastated southern Asia, asking God to give survivors the courage to cope.

The tragedy weighed heavy as the spiritual journey began. Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim nation with 220 million people — was hit hardest by the natural disaster, but 200,000 Indonesian pilgrims, the country’s quota, still were expected in Mecca.

One Indonesian man spoke of his surprise over the dozens of strangers who noticed his nationality printed on the pouch around his neck and approached to offer condolences for the more than 100,000 Indonesians who died Dec. 26.


Police clash with militants

UMM AL-HAIMAN — A gunman was killed and two Kuwaiti policemen wounded when security forces clashed with militants in southern Kuwait yesterday, the Interior Ministry said.

At least one gunman was captured during the firefight in Umm al-Haiman as security forces surrounded a group of suspected Islamic militants, the ministry said.

The dead gunman was identified as Saudi national Hamada al-Enezi, a security source told Reuters news agency. Up to six militants escaped.


Mandela’s kin says AIDS killed mother

QUNU — The grandson of Nelson Mandela heeded the former South African president’s call for more openness about the AIDS epidemic yesterday, revealing that his mother had died from the virus that also killed his father.

Mandla Mandela revealed the cause of his mother’s death in a speech to mourners at the funeral for his father, Makgatho Mandela, who had been the last surviving son of the anti-apartheid icon.

About 4,000 people attended the funeral at the former president’s Eastern Cape home.

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