- Search on for Wipha survivors
- Weak rupee keeps Indian tourists away
- Model turns up dead after land deal sours
OSHIMA: Rescuers in Japan picked through mud and splintered houses after a typhoon that killed at least 19 people, as hopes faded for dozens not seen since a landslide engulfed their homes.
Hundreds of police, firefighters and troops searched through the night in an area where buildings were swallowed when a mountainside collapsed.
Typhoon Wipha, dubbed the strongest in a decade, never actually made landfall as it surged past Japan, but violent winds and torrential rain set off mudslides that buried neighbourhoods on Oshima.
At least 18 people died and 35 were still missing on the island, which lies 120km south of the Japanese capital, a local official and media said.
One woman died in western Tokyo, police have said.
On Oshima, about 15 police officers spent the morning using chainsaws and shovels to free the body of an elderly woman buried in mud and the smashed remains of a wooden building, a reporter said.
The woman was formally pronounced dead later in the day, taking the toll to 19.
Elsewhere troops, who arrived on the island on Wednesday morning just hours after it was raked by the storm, fanned out on paths up a mountainside shouting: "Is there anybody there?"
Spokesman Yoshinori Sano said the men were "hopeful" of finding survivors among the devastation.
"A total of 278 of us came yesterday, and we have been looking for survivors since then, without sleep or rest," he said.
Resident Tadashi Sogi said his house had been swept 30m, with much of it engulfed by the thick mud.
As he loaded his car with a few salvaged belongings – including a photograph album – he said he was going back to join the rescue effort.
Some of the roughly 8,000 people who live on the island had sought shelter in evacuation centres as the huge storm approached, reporting water gushing into their homes as it dumped more than 12cm of rain on Oshima in an hour. — AFP
A WEAK Indian rupee and a new tax imposed on television sets that are brought home from overseas have dampened the enthusiasm of Indian tourists to travel to Singapore.
Tourist guides and travel agents said that their revenue derived from these tourists has declined across all tiers of the market, by as much as 80% compared to six months ago.
Luxury Tours and Travel, which focuses on the mid- to high-end tourist market, used to pull in an average of 3,000 Indian tourists to Singapore each month. This has fallen to 2,000, said its director Michael Lee.
The Indian market now makes up 28% of the travel agency's sales, down from 38%.
"Singapore's currency is very strong and the rupee is very weak. We are becoming less competitive for the Indian market," Lee said. The Indian rupee has fallen considerably against the Singapore dollar in the past six months.
Further hurting the pockets of Indian tourists who regularly fly to Singapore to buy electronic goods was the imposition in August, by the Indian authorities, of a 36% duty on flat-screen televisions that travellers bring back from other countries.
According to media reports, Singapore is not the only country being shunned by travellers.
Indian tourists are choosing to travel domestically, take shorter trips or opt for cheaper Asian destinations like Thailand.
On the other hand, outbound travel agencies here are seeing a surge in the number of Singaporeans heading to India.
At ASA Holidays, bookings from Singaporeans for travel to India next month and in December have jumped 20 % from a year earlier. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
Singapore-based model Fehmina Chaudhry had overcome a divorce and was working hard to make it in Bollywood before she was murdered.
"She had a love for life and was following her dreams," said film production company managing director Sreyashi Sen, who met her through the film and events circuit here early last year.
The body of the 27-year-old pageant winner was found in a ditch in the Pakistani capital Islamabad on Monday.
It is believed that she moved to Singapore with her husband a few years ago.
"She was going through some personal problems but she didn't let it daunt her," Sen added.
The catwalk fashion model came from a "very good" family in Karachi and married at the age of 18.
Speaking to the reporters from her apartment in Simei, Chaudhry's mother-in-law confirmed that Chaudhry and her son had been divorced for about a year and were no longer in contact with each other.
Chaudhry's former husband has custody of their two children, who have not been informed of their mother's death.
Chaudhry went missing last Thursday after flying to Pakistan to negotiate deals to buy land.
The land was reportedly being sold by real estate broker Muaz Waqar, who later confessed to her murder during investigations.
She had reportedly given Waqar gold jewellery worth three million Pakistani rupees (RM89,000) to purchase the land but asked for it to be returned when the deal failed. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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