Patna, Jun 19 (AP/UNB) — More than 100 children have died in an encephalitis outbreak in India's eastern state of Bihar, authorities said Tuesday.
Bihar health secretary Sanjay Kumar said 106 children had died and more than 430 others between the ages of 4 and 10 were being treated at hospitals in Muzaffarpur district, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Patna, the state capital.
Despite the deaths, Kumar said the mortality rate among children from encephalitis, which can cause swelling of the brain, a burning fever and vomiting, had dropped to 26.5% from 34% a year ago.
Young children are particularly vulnerable to the disease.
Villagers crowded outside Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital in Muzaffarpur, where some of the sick children are being treated, to protest a visit by Bihar's chief minister, whom they accused of only coming to the area after the death toll passed 100. Left-wing political organizations also rallied in New Delhi, demanding that the Bihar government do more to prevent what has become an annual outbreak.
"This acute encephalitis syndrome has been recurring in Bihar and the government has not taken any steps. And who is dying? It is the children of the very poor," said Mariam Dhawale of the All India Democratic Women's Association.
Thousands of Indians suffer from encephalitis, malaria, typhoid and other mosquito-borne diseases each year during the summer monsoon season.
Hong Kong, Jun 18(AP/UNB) — Hong Kong's leader planned to speak to the media Tuesday afternoon after protests over legislation that sparked fears of Beijing's increasing control in the former British colony.
Government headquarters reopened in the morning as the number of protesters outside dwindled to a few dozen.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam previously had suspended work on the extradition bill that ignited the protests but still faces calls to resign for having sought to push through the legislation, which would allow some suspects to be tried in mainland Chinese courts.
She was scheduled to hold a news conference at 4 p.m. but it wasn't clear if she would take questions.
Late Monday, Hong Kong's police commissioner, Stephen Lo Wai-chung, sought to defuse anger over aggressive police tactics during protests last week. He said only five of 15 people arrested during the clashes were charged with rioting, a serious offense that can result in a prison term of up to 10 years. Another 17 people were arrested on lesser charges.
Lo still defended as appropriate the police response to the protests, which included the use of tear gas, rubber bullets and steel batons against protesters who removed crowd control and traffic barriers.
Those tactics helped draw nearly 2 million people, young and old, into a march on Sunday, according to organizers' estimates. Protesters were demanding Lam scrap the extradition bill and authorities apologize for the police actions.
A member of the Executive Council, Lam's cabinet, told reporters that Hong Kong's leaders made a "big mistake" in not consulting the public before proposing the legislation. Lam Ching-choi said of Carrie Lam, "I believe she will communicate her apologies to the public in the near future."
The activists have rejected Lam's apologies for her handling of the legislation, which touched a nerve not easily soothed in a city anxious over the increasingly authoritarian Communist rule of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The uproar also highlights worries that Hong Kong is losing the special autonomous status China promised it when it took control in 1997.
On June 9, as many as 1 million people demonstrated to express their concern over Hong Kong's relations with mainland China.
The scenes are similar to demonstrations in 2014, when protesters camped for weeks in the streets demanding a direct election to decide the city's chief executive, who is chosen by a pro-Beijing committee.
One concern over the extradition bill is that it might be used to send critics of Communist Party rule to the mainland to face vague political charges, possible torture and unfair trials.
Lam insists the legislation is needed for Hong Kong to uphold justice and not become a magnet for fugitives. It would expand the scope of criminal suspect transfers to include Taiwan, Macau and mainland China.
So far, China has been excluded from Hong Kong's extradition agreements because of concerns over the judicial independence of its courts and its human rights record.
The vast majority of Hong Kong residents fled persecution, political chaos or poverty and famine in the Chinese mainland. They value stability and but also cherish freedoms of dissent and legal protections not allowed for people on the mainland.
Tokyo, Jun 18(AP/UNB) — The Japanese coast guard said Tuesday its patrol boats have been pushing back hundreds of North Korean boats trying to poach in fishing grounds rich with squid off Japan's northern coast.
More than 300 North Korean boats have been forced out of Japan's exclusive economic zone near Yamatotai since May, the coast guard said in a statement.
The Japanese patrol boats also used water cannons on 50 North Korean boats that ignored warnings.
Coast guard footage showed North Korean crewmen on a wooden boat abandon a fishing rope after being sprayed water.
Japanese authorities have stepped up patrols in the area as North Korean poaching has surged in recent years.
Experts say the growing number of poachers may be related Pyongyang's campaign to boost fish harvests to obtain dietary protein as the nation struggles to achieve food self-sufficiency and to overcome health problems caused by poor diets. To reach their quotas, fishermen from the North may be taking more risks and venturing farther from their usual waters, often violating Japan's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone, experts say.
Fisheries officials have said they believe that scores of dilapidated wooden boats that have washed ashore in northern Japan in a seasonal influx in recent years could be part of those poachers that fail to return home due to accidents or bad weather.
A record 225 of the so-called "ghost boats" washed up on northern Japanese coasts last year, more than twice the number recorded in the previous year, according to the coast guard.
Ankara, Jun 17 (AP/UNB) — A boat carrying migrants to Greece sank off the Turkish coast on Monday, leaving at least 12 migrants dead, Turkey's coast guard said.
The coast guard said 31 other migrants were rescued after the boat sank in the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Bodrum. The region is close to the Greek island of Kos.
The 12 bodies were found inside the wreck of the boat at a depth of 32 meters (105 feet), the coast guard said in a statement.
It said the search-and-rescue operation involving two coast guard boats, a helicopter and a team of divers, is continuing.
It was not immediately clear why the boat sank. There was no immediate information on the migrants' nationalities.
Although the number of people heading to the Greek islands from the Turkish coast has decreased since the height of the refugee crisis in 2015, hundreds continue to make the crossing each week.
New Delhi, June 17 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Doctor associations across India Monday joined the strike in solidarity with their protesting colleagues in eastern Indian state of West Bengal, officials said.
The move comes at a time when doctors in West Bengal have agreed for talks with the local government to end the ongoing impasse.
"We are keen to end this impasse. We are ready to hold talks with the chief minister at a venue of her choice, provided it is held in the open, in the presence of media persons, and not behind closed doors," a spokesperson of the doctors said.
A senior government official in West Bengal health department said talks between striking doctors and government were likely to take place Monday afternoon.
"The Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is likely to meet doctors at 3:00 p.m. (local time) today," the official on the condition of anonymity said.
Monday's country wide strike was called by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to condemn the attack on a doctor by relatives of a patient who died at Kolkata's NRS Medical College last week.
According to IMA, all non-essential medical services including services at Out-Patient Departments (OPD), would be withdrawn for 24 hours starting 6:00 a.m. (local time) on Monday until 6: 00 a.m. (local time) on Tuesday.
Monday's all-India strike is likely to hit patient care services at government hospitals across the country
Resident doctors' association of the country's top medical institute - All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has decided to go on strike from 12:00 noon until 6:00 a.m. (local time) on Tuesday. However, emergency services including ICU, labour room and casualty shall continue to function.
India's federal health minister Harsh Vardhan has asked states to consider enacting specific laws to safeguard doctors and medical professionals from any form of violence.
Reports of doctors' protests are pouring in from many cities across the country.
Meanwhile, India's Supreme Court Monday said it will hear a plea on Tuesday seeking safety measures for government doctors. However, IMA has called for a comprehensive law in dealing with violence on doctors and healthcare staff.