Jumaat, 25 Oktober 2013

The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Philippine quake creates wall longer than 5km


MANILA: A deadly earthquake that struck the Philippines last week created a spectacular rocky wall that stretches for kilometres through farmlands, astounded geologists said.

Dramatic pictures of the Earth-altering power of the 7.1-magnitide quake have emerged as the government worked to mend the broken central island of Bohol, ground zero of the destruction.

A "ground rupture" pushed up a stretch of ground by up to 3m, creating a wall of rock above the epicentre, Maria Isabel Abigania, a geologist at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said.

"Our people have walked 5km so far and not found the end of this wall," she said, as experts from the institute surveyed the damage.

"So far we have not gotten any reports of people getting swallowed up in these cracks."

A photograph on the institute's website showed part of the rock wall grotesquely rising on farmland behind an unscathed bamboo hut.

Another house was shown lodged in a crack of the Earth, while a big hole on the ground opened up at a banana farm.

Renato Solidum, head of the institute, said the ground fissures from the quake, which killed 198 people on Bohol and two nearby islands, were among the largest recorded since the government agency began keeping quake records in 1987.

"Most of our other quake records show a lateral (sideways) tearing of the earth, though we've also had coral reefs rising from the sea," he said.

The Philippines lies on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire made up of chains of islands created by volcanic eruption that are also frequently hit by earthquakes. — AFP

Indian teen kills herself after Facebook row


MUMBAI: A 17-year-old has committed suicide in western India after a row with her parents who told her she had to stop using Facebook, police said Friday.

College student Aishwarya Dahiwal was found hanging in her bedroom on Wednesday after an argument with her parents in Maharashtra state's Parbhani city, an investigating officer told AFP, declining to be named.

"On Wednesday night, she had an argument with her parents who told her not to just use Facebook and her mobile all day for chatting," the officer from Nanal Peth police station said.

"They told her to focus on her studies. After the argument, she locked herself in her room and was found hanging later, with a suicide note nearby," he said.

A note referring to the argument and Facebook is being examined by police.

Experts say that there are almost always multiple causes for a suicide, including psychiatric illnesses, that may not have been recognised or treated.

Internet use remains low across India but is growing quickly, expected to reach about 200 million online out of the 1.2 billion-strong population by the end of 2013.

About three-quarters of India's high school students prefer Facebook over phone calls to communicate, according to a survey released in June by Tata Consultancy Services. - AFP

Indonesian capital swoops to rescue performing monkeys


JAKARTA:  Lying low in a slum in the Indonesian capital Jakarta, monkey handler Tardi does not dare take his long-tailed macaque out to perform in the streets for fear of being caught in a new crackdown.

He and fellow handlers have been keeping a low profile in recent days after city authorities launched their toughest bid yet to rescue the animals which they say have been kept for years in squalid conditions.

Tied to leashes and forced to wear doll masks and beg for money as they totter along on their hind legs, the performing monkeys have long been a common sight in teeming, traffic-clogged Jakarta.

But in recent years authorities and animal rights groups have been stepping up efforts to crack down on the practice, and city governor Joko Widodo has now announced a plan to get the animals off the streets by 2014.

"This has become an international issue," Widodo said. "Please have pity for these monkeys who have been abused by their owners."

After taking power in October last year, he ordered officials to step up efforts to get the monkeys off the streets, but the campaign that got under way this week is his most ambitious yet.

A central part of it is offering compensation of one million rupiah (around $90) to every handler from whom a monkey is seized, as well as offering to train them in new professions.

To kick off the campaign, public-order officers, who assist the national police in maintaining peace, launched a series of raids across the city. They have so far seized 21 monkeys and sent them to be quarantined, according to officials.

The rescued monkeys "were stressed, some tried to attack and some recoiled when we approached them", vet Valentina Aswindrastuti from the Jakarta quarantine facility told AFP. "They also had swollen gums and rotten teeth."

The monkeys, known in Indonesian as "topeng monyet", which means "masked monkey", are typically in bad health after being kept for years in cramped, filthy cages.

They also suffer from being trained to stand on two legs like humans, with their necks hung from wires and their arms bound.

While Jakarta still has some way to go - animal rights groups believe there are still about 200 performing monkeys in the city - activists have been encouraged by the swift start to the campaign.

The Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), which has helped to rescue the monkeys in the past and has campaigned vigorously on the issue, praised the offer of cash compensation as "the best solution yet from the government to stop monkey abuse".

"The scheme to provide one million rupiah will help the monkey handlers start a new business," Benvika, head of the group who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP.

The widely publicised campaign has scared many handlers from heading out with their monkeys and the usual haunts of the masked primates are currently deserted.

Tardi, 41, and some of his fellow monkey handlers who live in a riverbank slum in eastern Jakarta have been lying low in recent days instead of taking their monkeys to perform in nearby neighbourhoods and the city centre.

But they have been angered by the crackdown, saying it could financially ruin them and that accusations of widespread abuse are unfair.

"I've done this job for more than 10 years," the father-of-four, who goes by one name, told AFP. "I did not go to school. This is the only skill I have to earn money."

Handlers say they earn as much as 1.7 million rupiah ($155) a month for working a few days a week, more than 500,000 rupiah more than the monthly basic salary of factory workers, who clock long hours daily.

They rent a monkey for 15,000 to 30,000 rupiah a day but have to pay the owners one million rupiah if they lose the animal.

Fellow handler Kholid Mawar insisted that the monkeys, who are kept in the slum in tiny brick enclosures with white, wooden doors, were properly looked after.

"I always feed the monkey... We treat him as if he were part of our family," said the 25-year-old, adding that he was now struggling financially at a time when his second child had just been born.

"They say we have made the monkeys suffer, but what about us?" - AFP

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