- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2006

SOUTH KOREA

Pyongyang to take flood aid from South

SEOUL — North Korea has accepted aid from South Korea, a South Korean official said yesterday, to help recover from floods that an aid group claims left tens of thousands dead and more than 2 million homeless.

Officials with the North’s Red Cross sent a message to their South Korean counterparts accepting an assistance offer, said Unification Ministry spokesman Yang Chang-seok. The two sides plan to discuss the aid tomorrow.

It was an apparent turnabout for the impoverished communist country, which spurned aid from South Korea’s Red Cross after the floods hit in mid-July, saying it would handle the disaster on its own. The South Korean government plans to send more than $72 million in joint donations with civic groups, several of which have already shipped relief supplies to the North and plan to send more, officials said.

INDONESIA

10 Bali bomb convicts given early release

JAKARTA — At least 10 persons convicted for the 2002 Bali nightclub bombings that killed 202 persons had their sentences cut yesterday to mark Indonesia’s independence day, allowing one of them to walk free from prison.

Australia said victims and their families would be upset by the decision. Most of those killed were foreign tourists, including 88 Australians. Nine prisoners serving sentences of five to 16 years had their sentences cut by four months, Ilham Djaya,chief of Bali’s Kerobokan prison, told reporters.

Those given remissions yesterday were convicted on charges such as robbery to help fund the Bali attack and giving refuge to key figures.

PHILIPPINES

Workers, residents try to contain oil spill

TAKLONG ISLAND — The waters of Taklong marine reserve in the central Philippines glisten in the sun but stink of petroleum as thick sludge washes ashore. As disaster workers and residents of nearby villages tried again yesterday to contain last week’s oil spill from a sunken tanker, worries grew about the effect on fish, plants, people and tourism.

“My fear is all the mangrove trees will die,” said Joseph Gajo, a caretaker at the 2,857-acre marine reserve. “If the mangroves and coral die, this will affect fishermen.” Along the coast, men were putting up nets to try to keep the spill from washing ashore.

The mangroves, coral reefs and sea grass beds of Taklong, on the southern tip of Guimaras Island, serve as a nursery and feeding ground for 144 species of fish and other sea creatures.

Weekly notes …

Cambodia’s Prince Norodom Ranariddh returned home from self-imposed exile yesterday, five months after falling out with his coalition partner, Prime Minister Hun Sen. Ranariddh landed in the northwestern city of Siem Reap near fabled Angkor Wat and went to see his father, ex-King Norodom Sihanouk, who stunned the country by abdicating in 2004. Ranariddh said he returned to organize his party before local elections next year and the 2008 general elections. … Japan yesterday chased away a ship of Taiwanese nationalists, angered by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to a shrine honoring Japan’s war dead, who tried to land on Uotsuri island. The island is the largest of the uninhabited islands called the Senkakus in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. The Japanese coast guard issued an oral warning as the ship neared the islands, which are also claimed by China, but did not use force.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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