13 die after Indonesian ferry catches fire, sinks
JAKARTA • At least 13 people have been killed and eight are still missing after a ferry caught fire and sank in central Indonesia, an official said yesterday.
The boat was believed to be carrying nearly 150 passengers off the coast of Sulawesi province last Friday when the blaze started.
High waves hampered initial rescue efforts but 126 people had been saved by yesterday afternoon.
Among the deaths were two toddlers. Most of the rescued passengers were found wearing life jackets. The cause of the accident was unclear.
Iraq elects Sunni lawmaker as Speaker
ERBIL/SULAIMANIYA • Iraq's Parliament elected Sunni lawmaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, 37, as Speaker yesterday, marking an important step towards establishing a new government four months after an inconclusive national election.
Parliament had been due to elect a Speaker and two deputies during its first meeting on Sept 3, but failed to do so as lawmakers were unable to determine which competing bloc had the most seats.
Mr Halbousi's election marks the start of a 90-day process outlined in the Constitution, designed to eventually lead to a new government.
Lawmakers must next elect a new president and task the leader of the largest bloc to form a government as prime minister.
Elephant electrocuted after hitting signboard
BANGKOK • A young male elephant was electrocuted in Thailand after stumbling into a drain and crashing into a restaurant sign, police said yesterday.
Two elephant handlers were walking 10-year-old Plai Nam Choke - or "Lucky" in English - around a town in Samut Prakhan province south of Bangkok, offering passers-by the chance to feed him for cash.
But Lucky stumbled into an open sewer and collided with an electric signboard outside a restaurant, said police officer Nopporn Saengsawang, who added that it likely died from electrocution.
The two handlers were charged with illegally moving the elephant and animal cruelty offences, Mr Nopporn said.