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Top Asian News 3:30 a.m. GMT

July 5, 2021 GMT

Blast at Thai factory shakes Bangkok airport, area evacuated

BANGKOK (AP) — A massive explosion at a factory on the outskirts of Bangkok early Monday shook an airport terminal serving Thailand’s capital and prompted the evacuation of residents from the area. The fire broke out early in the morning at a foam and plastic pallet manufacturing factory in a southeastern area of Bangkok near Suvarnabhumi Airport. Photos showed nearby homes with their windows blown out and wreckage in the streets. Firefighters were still working to contain the blaze hours later, and authorities ordered an evacuation of the area amid fears that thousands of liters (gallons) of leaking chemicals may cause more explosions.

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Rescuers slog through mud in Japan resort where 20 missing

TOKYO (AP) — Rescue workers slogged through mud and debris Monday looking for at least 20 people missing since a giant landslide ripped through a Japanese seaside resort town and killed at least three people. Mud crashed into rows of houses on a mountainside in Atami early Saturday following several days of heavy rains. Witnesses heard a giant roar and then saw the homes swallowed by muddy waves. Bystanders were heard gasping in horror on cell phone videos taken as it happened. Hundreds of troops, firefighters and other rescue workers toiled in thick mud on the city streets, the scene obscured by continuing rains and fog.

Philippine military’s worst air disaster kills 50, wounds 49

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine troops found the last five dead from the crash of a transport aircraft in the south, raising the death toll to 50 in the military’s worst air disaster, officials said Monday. The Lockheed C-130 Hercules was carrying 96 mostly combat troops when it overshot the runway while landing Sunday at the Jolo airport in Sulu province, military officials said. It slammed into a coconut grove beyond the airport and burst into flames in a noontime disaster witnessed by horrified soldiers and villagers. Troops, police and firefighters rescued 49 military personnel, including a few who jumped off the aircraft before it exploded and was gutted by fire.

Taliban take districts in NE Afghanistan from fleeing troops

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban’s march through northern Afghanistan gained momentum overnight with the capture of several districts from fleeing Afghan forces, several hundred of whom fled across the border into Tajikistan, officials said Sunday. More than 300 Afghan military personnel crossed from Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province as Taliban fighters advanced toward the border, Tajikistan’s State Committee for National Security said in a statement. The Afghan troops crossed over at about 6:30 p.m. local time Saturday “Guided by the principles of humanism and good neighborliness,” the Tajik authorities allowed the retreating Afghan National Defense and Security Forces to cross into Tajikistan, said the statement Since mid-April, when U.S.

Tokyo assembly split after vote amid pandemic Olympics fears

TOKYO (AP) — An election in Japan’s capital has left the Tokyo city assembly splintered amid worries about health risks during the Olympics, opening in three weeks, as coronavirus cases continue to rise. In Sunday’s balloting for 127 seats, Gov. Yuriko Koike’s Tomin First party was elected in 31 seats, down from 46. The Liberal Democrats, the ruling party on the national level, won 33 seats, up from 25. Public opinion surveys show about 60% of respondents want the Games canceled or postponed again. Behind the fears is the lagging vaccination rollout, with only about 10% of the population fully vaccinated.

Indonesia hospital: 33 COVID patients die amid oxygen outage

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Dozens of coronavirus patients died after a public hospital on Indonesia’s main island of Java ran out of liquid oxygen amid a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases, a hospital official said Sunday. At least 33 patients with severe coronavirus infections died after the central supply of liquid medical oxygen ran out late Saturday at Dr. Sardjito General Hospital in Yogyakarta city due to delays from suppliers over the weekend, said hospital spokesman Banu Hermawan. The oxygen shortage in the city’s largest hospital was due to an increase in patients arriving in deteriorating condition, Hermawan said. At least 63 virus patients died during treatment for COVID-19 in the hospital since Saturday — 33 of them during the period when the central liquid oxygen supply ran out — even though the hospital switched to using oxygen cylinders during the outage, he said.

Some Chinese shun grueling careers for ‘low-desire life’

BEIJING (AP) — Fed up with work stress, Guo Jianlong quit a newspaper job in Beijing and moved to China’s mountain southwest to “lie flat.” Guo joined a small but visible handful of Chinese urban professionals who are rattling the ruling Communist Party by rejecting grueling careers for a “low-desire life.” That is clashing with the party’s message of success and consumerism as its celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding. Guo, 44, became a freelance writer in Dali, a town in Yunnan province known for its traditional architecture and picturesque scenery. He married a woman he met there. “Work was OK, but I didn’t like it much,” Guo said.

Chinese ride service Didi told to take app off online stores

BEIJING (AP) — Ride-hailing service Didi Global Inc., which made its U.S. stock market debut last week, was ordered Sunday by Chinese regulators to remove its app from online stores while the company overhauls its handling of customer data. Dozens of social media and e-commerce companies have been told to handle customer information more carefully as the Communist Party tightens control over their influential industries. Some have been told to collect less information. An investigation found “serious violations” in how Didi collected and used personal information, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced. A statement said the company was told to “rectify problems” but gave no details.

Pakistan says India was behind June bomb blast in Lahore

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s national security advisor has accused India of orchestrating last month’s deadly car bombing in the eastern city of Lahore, saying Sunday that an investigation has shown it was organized by an Indian intelligence operative. In a news conference in Islamabad, Moeed Yousuf said the probe showed that the man was an Indian citizen living in India who works for that country’s RAW intelligence agency. He did not name the alleged mastermind. “Through the forensic analysis, electronic equipment, which has been recovered from these terrorists, we have identified the main mastermind and the handlers of this terrorist attack.

Indians plant millions of saplings amid mass campaign

LUCKNOW, India (AP) — More than a million people on Sunday began planting 250 million saplings in India’s most populous state, part of an annual mass tree planting campaign to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of global climate change. Lawmakers, government officials and volunteers from social organizations swarmed riverbanks, farms, forests, schools and government buildings, planting saplings at designated spots. The effort spans 68,000 villages and 83,000 forest sites in northern Uttar Pradesh state. India has pledged to keep a third of its total land area under forest and tree cover, but a growing population and increasing demand for industrial projects has placed greater stress on the land.