Khamis, 16 Januari 2014

The Star Online: World Updates

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The Star Online: World Updates

Fire erupts at Nippon Steel plant in central Japan, no injuries reported

Posted: 16 Jan 2014 08:45 PM PST

TOKYO (Reuters) - A fire erupted at Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp's steel plant in central Japan, local fire authorities said on Friday, adding no injuries have been reported.

Aerial footage on national broadcaster NHK showed fire and smoke billing out of multiple spots in the plant, near Nagoya. An official at the local fire department said fire engines were sent to the site around 12:30 p.m. (0330 GMT).

A spokesman at Nippon Steel said the company was still gathering information.

Shares in Nippon Steel were little changed on the news, down 0.9 percent.

(Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo and Emi Emoto; Writing by Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Shinichi Saoshiro)

South Korea to cull more than 20,000 ducks after report of possible bird flu

Posted: 16 Jan 2014 07:55 PM PST

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea will cull more than 20,000 ducks after reporting its first possible outbreak of bird flu since 2011, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said a duck farm in Gochang, North Jeolla Province, about 300 km (186 miles) southwest of Seoul, was likely to have been contaminated by the H5N1 virus. Final tests are due out later on Friday.

The suspected case of the virus was reported on Thursday and the provincial government has taken pre-emptive measures to control the spread of any disease and ordered a cull of more than 20,000 poultry at the farm.

Poultry movement controls have also been ordered and 24 poultry farms in four provinces, that recently bought ducks from the Gochang farm, have been quarantined.

Asia's fourth-largest economy has had four outbreaks of the virus in the past 10 years, the last one in 2011 which led to the slaughter over 3 million poultry, but no human cases of the bird flu strain have been reported.

In Asia, around 150 people in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong have been infected by the new H7N9 strain of bird flu since it emerged in China last year, claiming at least 46 lives.

(Reporting By Jane Chung; Editing by Michael Perry)

South Korea rejects North's call to halt drills with U.S.

Posted: 16 Jan 2014 07:35 PM PST

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea on Friday rejected a call from the reclusive North to halt "provocative" military drills with the United States, saying that as a democracy it didn't carry out preemptive strikes.

North Korea traditionally demands the South to call off the drills, scheduled for February and March this year, labelling them as a prelude to invasion, but this year it also suggested both sides take steps to ease tension, including a moratorium on mutual verbal attacks.

"The Key Resolve and the Foal Eagle exercises will go ahead as scheduled ... (South Korea) is a democratic country so we do not engage in preemptive strikes," South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said at a briefing.

Tension soared early last year as Pyongyang reacted angrily to tightened U.N. sanctions imposed in response to its latest nuclear test. North Korea said it would retaliate against any hostile moves by striking at the United States, Japan and South Korea, triggering months of fiery rhetoric.

South Korea also said the North's latest demand, carried in a long statement issued by its National Defence Commission, was disingenuous, as it insulted the South even as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for improved ties.

The two Koreas have yet to come up with any substantial measures to reduce military tension on the world's last Cold War frontier.

After more than 60 years since the end of 1950-53 Korean War, the two sides remain technically at war as the conflict ended with an armistice rather than a treaty.

But analysts say the North cannot risk igniting a conventional military conflict it would almost certainly lose.

Many North Korea watchers believe it could instead launch another long-range rocket or push ahead with a nuclear test. It has conducted three nuclear tests, the last one in February last year.

The North could also stage another artillery attack on South Korean territory as it did in 2010, and risk provoking a military response from Seoul that could trigger a wider conflict.

The North's rocket launches are banned under U.N. resolutions because they are viewed as part of a process of proving the technology for an intercontinental nuclear weapon.

Kim, who took power two years ago after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, has pursued his father's military policies, including those aimed at obtaining nuclear strike capacity.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Jack Kim and Nick Macfie)


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