IN BRIEF

Bootleg hooch kills 17

in northern India

NEW DELHI — Seventeen labourers have died and about a dozen others are fighting for their lives in northern India after drinking toxic homemade liquor, police said yesterday, in the latest incident of alcohol poisoning in the country. Police in Uttar Pradesh state’s Etah district said the victims started to vomit and fall sick, complaining of severe stomach aches and blurred vision after consuming the illicit moonshine late on Friday. “Seventeen people have died since (Friday) night and about 12 are still in the hospital, very ill,” a local police officer said. He said a local vendor was arrested late on Saturday after police registered a formal case against him for culpable homicide. — AFP

5.0 magnitude quake

shakes Tokyo

TOKYO — A 5.0 magnitude earthquake shook Tokyo and large ares of eastern Japan yesterday, the US Geological Survey said, but there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties. The quake hit at 1.24 pm (12.24pm in Malaysia) with its epicentre at a relatively shallow depth of 40km in Ibaraki, northeast of the capital, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

No damage or injuries were immediately reported as buildings in Tokyo were shaken by the jolt. “Shinkansen” bullet train services were temporarily suspended in the region, while no abnormality was monitored at nuclear power facilities in Tokai, Ibaraki prefecture. Japan sits at the junction of four tectonic plates and experiences a number of relatively violent quakes every year, but rigid building codes and strict enforcement mean even powerful tremors frequently do little damage. — AFP

Suspected N. Korean

defector found in Japan

TOKYO — A man claiming to have escaped North Korea was being held under police protection after he was found wandering in a city in western Japan, local media reported yesterday. The man told the police that he left North Korea by ship last week, public broadcaster NHK and the Asahi Shimbun said, without clarifying why he was on board. He then jumped off the boat and swam ashore in Yamaguchi prefecture by holding onto a floating plastic container, the news reports said. The man, whose name was withheld, was found wandering in Nagato city on Saturday morning and taken in by police. Kyodo News said the man, wearing a black T-shirt and trousers, said he was born in 1990 but did not have anything to prove his identity. — AFP

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