Aceh quake: Nearly 84,000 homeless
JAKARTA • The number of people made homeless by the devastating 6.5-magnitude quake which struck Indonesia's Aceh province last week has risen to nearly 84,000.
Most of the displaced, or 82,122 people, were from the hardest-hit Pidie Jaya regency, and the rest from Bireuen regency, the country's disaster management agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement.
The death toll from last Wednesday's quake remained unchanged at 101, and the number of people injured stood at 666, he said.
Nearly 12,000 buildings, including mosques, shops and schools, were damaged.
Abu Sayyaf militants free two hostages
MANILA • Islamist militants in the Philippines yesterday freed two Indonesians who were kidnapped six months ago, after the rebels came under pressure from the Philippine army, a military spokesman said.
The two were among seven Indonesian crewmen who were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf militant group from a tug sailing in waters off the southern Philippines in June, said Major Filemon Tan, spokesman for the military's Western Mindanao Command.
Two die as cyclone hits south-east India
CHENNAI • Two people were killed yesterday after Cyclone Vardah pounded India's south-eastern coast at speeds of more than 100kmh, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes.
Heavy rains accompanied by high-velocity winds hit the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh states, uprooting trees and disrupting power supply lines.
With a high alert issued in several affected districts, flight operations were suspended and educational institutions shut as a precaution.
New Thai king pardons convicts
BANGKOK • Thailand's new King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has pardoned tens of thousands of prisoners, a first act of "mercy" as monarch as he reaches out to his subjects following the death of his beloved father.
Revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej died in October at age 88 after a seven-decade reign, leaving the politically febrile nation without its unifying figure.