Evacuations ordered after Thai chemical factory explodes
BANGKOK (AP) — A massive explosion at a chemical factory on the outskirts of Bangkok early Monday killed at least one person, injured dozens more and damaged scores of homes, while prompting the evacuation of a wide area over fears of poisonous fumes and the possibility of additional denotations. The fire broke out at around 3 a.m. at a foam and plastic pellet manufacturing factory just outside Bangkok near Suvarnabhumi Airport, with the explosion blowing out windows of surrounding homes and sending debris raining from the air. The blast could be heard for kilometers (miles) and surveillance footage from a nearby house captured the bright flash and boom, followed by the damage to the home and the one next door from the shockwaves.
Japan searches for dozens missing in resort town mudslide
ATAMI, Japan (AP) — Rescue workers slogged through mud and debris Monday looking for dozens feared missing after a giant landslide ripped through a Japanese seaside resort town, killing at least three people. Eighty people were still unaccounted for, according to Shizuoka prefectural disaster management official Takamichi Sugiyama. Officials were preparing to release their names, hoping to reach some who might not have been caught in the landslide. Initially, 147 of those people were unreachable, but that number was revised downward after city officials confirmed some had safely evacuated or were away when the disaster struck, it said. The disaster is an added trial as authorities prepare for the Tokyo Olympics, due to start in less than three weeks, while Japan is still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Philippine military's worst air disaster kills 50, wounds 49
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 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.
Taiwan's push to shortcut vaccine approval sparks debate
TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — At the end of May, Chen Pei-jer, a member of an expert committee in Taiwan to evaluate COVID-19 vaccines for use on the island, resigned. Chen's resignation came after he learned that Taiwan'sFood and Drug Administration planned to take a regulatory shortcut in approving two vaccines being developed in Taiwan. The shortcut would allow the shots to be given to people for emergency use before the vaccines have finished the final stage of testing. The proposed shortcut comes as Taiwan scrambles to get vaccines amid its worst outbreak of the pandemic, and has also recorded its first cases of the highly contagious delta variant originally found in India.
Indonesia seeks more oxygen for COVID-19 sick amid shortage
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Parts of Indonesia lack oxygen supplies as the number of critically ill COVID-19 patients who need it increases, the nation's pandemic response leader said Monday, after dozens of sick people died at a public hospital that ran out of its central supply. “Due to an increase of three to four times in the amount (of oxygen) needed, the distribution has been hampered,” said Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the coordinating maritime affairs and investment minister. The government is asking oxygen producers to dedicate their full supply to medical needs and will import it if needed, Pandjaitan said at a virtual news conference.
Malaysians suffering amid lockdown fly white flag for help
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — When Mohamad Nor Abdullah put a white flag outside his window late at night, he didn’t expect the swift outpouring of support. By morning, dozens of strangers knocked on his door, offering food, cash and encouragement. Malaysia's nationwide lockdown to curb a coronavirus surge was tightened further on Saturday, banning people in certain areas from leaving their homes except to buy food and necessities. It lurched Mohamad Nor into desperation. He ekes out a living by selling packed nasi lemak, a popular dish of coconut milk rice with condiments, at a roadside stall every morning, but that income has vanished and government aid was insufficient.
Malaysia to reopen Parliament July 26 after royal pressure
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia's government announced Monday that Parliament will resume July 26, caving into pressure from the king to lift the legislature's suspension under a coronavirus emergency imposed in January. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin obtained royal assent in January to declare an emergency until Aug. 1 to curb a spike in coronavirus cases, but critics slammed the decree as a ruse to help him stay in power amid challenges to his leadership from both the opposition and within his coalition. The emergency suspended Parliament but includes no other measures. Muhyiddin’s government remains in control and has extraordinary powers to introduce laws without parliamentary approval.
New Zealand records warmest-ever June as ski fields struggle
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand has recorded its warmest June since recordkeeping began, as ski fields struggle to open and experts predict shorter southern winters in the future. A range of factors led to the record, including more winds coming from the milder north rather than the Antarctic south, and unusually warm ocean temperatures, said Gregor Macara, a climate scientist at the government-owned National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research. He said the vagaries of weather will change from month to month. “But the underlying trend is of increasing temperatures and overall warming,” Macara said. The average temperature in June was 10.6 degrees Celsius (51 Fahrenheit), the research agency reported Monday.
Suez Canal says deal reached to free seized vessel
CAIRO (AP) — The Suez Canal Authority on Sunday said it has reached an agreement to settle a financial dispute with the owners of a hulking container ship that blocked the crucial waterway for nearly a week earlier this year. The authority did not reveal details on the settlement deal with the Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the Japanese owner of the Ever Given. It said the deal will be signed in a ceremony in the Suez Canal city of Ismailia on Wednesday. The vessel would be also freed Wednesday, it said. The head of Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority, Lt. Gen. Osama Rabie, said last month the parties had agreed on a compensation amount.
The Latest: UK's Duchess of Cambridge in self-isolation