- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 23, 2005


Warming melts Tibet’s permafrost

BEIJING — An official from China’s National Climate Center warns that warmer winters and summers in a fragile environmental region will ruin a rail link to Tibet by 2050.

The rail link to Tibet is expected to start trial operations in 2006. Since the early 1960s, when the Qinghai-Tibet Highway was formed, permafrost on both sides of the roadbed has retreated as much as 5.6 miles and the area of frozen soil decreased about 13 percent.

Luo Yong, deputy director of the center, said Tuesday that temperatures may climb as much as 6 degrees Fahrenheit in the Sanjiangyuan region of the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. According to yesterday’s China Daily, the sensitivity to temperature changes in that region is seen by many climatologists as a tripwire for global climate change that includes warming trends for China and East Asia.


Whaling Commission rejects Japanese bid

ULSAN — Japan experienced another setback yesterday in its bid for more whaling when an international commission rejected a plea to allow Japanese coastal communities to hunt whales.

The annual meeting here of the International Whaling Commission voted 29-26 against Japan’s proposal to change commission rules and allow it to catch 150 minke whales a year off its northern Pacific coast. The plan needed a three-quarters majority to pass.


Shark kills girl, 7, at Vanuatu beach

WELLINGTON — A 7-year-old New Zealand girl was killed by a shark while swimming off a beach in the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, New Zealand’s foreign ministry said yesterday.

Alysha Margaret Webster was killed off Malekula Island in northern Vanuatu on Wednesday, the ministry said. She had been in Vanuatu with her family on a yachting vacation. The Webster family flew back to the capital, Port Vila, yesterday en route home.

Weekly notes

Japan and Russia have confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit the Asian nation in November, Japanese officials said. The confirmation was announced during a meeting of Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Brussels on Wednesday, they said. … A United Nations refugee official said yesterday he is paying his second visit in five weeks to Gia Lai province in Vietnam’s Central Highlands to monitor the return from Cambodia of Montagnards. Vu Anh Son, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees mission chief in Hanoi, said: “So far I’ve met only a few. I cannot say now what their condition is.” Thirty-five Montagnards returned home in March under a January accord by the UNHCR, Vietnam and Cambodia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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