SINUI ISLAND, South Korea -- He ran the first chance he got. As the sun beat down on the salt fields where he worked without pay, Kim Seong-baek took off with another slave, mentally disabled like himself. But before they could make it to the port, a villager called their owner and returned them. Slavery of the disabled still thrives on these remote islands, far from the glittering steel-and-glass capital of one of Asia's richest countries. By Foster Klug, Jung-yoon Choi and Kim Tong-hyung. SENT: 2,670 words, photos, video. An abridged version of 1,130 words also moved.
PANGKALAN BUN, Indonesia -- Search crews have now recovered 30 bodies from the AirAsia crash, and an Indonesian navy official says five of them were found still strapped in their seats. By Robin McDowell. SENT: 260 words, photos, video. UPCOMING: 700 words by 1300 GMT, photos, video.
INDONESIA PLANE-A FAMILY'S PRAYERS
SURABAYA, Indonesia -- At the muddy gravesite where Hayati Lutfiah Hamid was buried, something was missing. Though around 150 villagers had gathered to lay the first identified victim of AirAsia Flight 8501 to rest, the people who would mourn her most were not there. Her husband, Djoko Suseno, 9-year-old daughter, Naura Kanita Rosada Suseno, and mother-in-law, Soemanik Saeran, are all still missing in the Java Sea after their plane went down Sunday, killing all 162 people on board. By Eileen Ng. SENT: 500 words, photos.
SHANGHAI -- Like hundreds of thousands of other revelers, 24-year-old Pan Haiqin decided to ring in the New Year on Shanghai's famed waterfront, as the skyscrapers across the Huangpu River flashed and sparkled. But as the crowd grew and then turned into an out-of-control crush of bodies, she never made it up the steps to see the lights. Nearly 20 hours later, her parents and friends identified her trampled body in a city morgue, one of 36 people killed in one of the deadliest accidents to hit this showcase Chinese city. On social media and TV airwaves, many Chinese are asking how such a tragedy could have taken place in one of the country's most high-profile urban areas. By Didi Tang. SENT: 950 words, photos.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- The Afghan government has sent a team to southern Helmand province to investigate the deaths of at least 28 people, mostly women and children, killed when soldiers fired artillery at a wedding party, officials say. By Mirwais Khan. SENT: 220 words, photos.
BEIJING -- A senior Chinese diplomat has been removed from his position and is being investigated for an unspecified disciplinary violation. A two-sentence statement from the Foreign Ministry did not offer more details about the removal of Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng. SENT: 90 words.
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia -- Prince Norodom Ranariddh, a former prime minister of Cambodia who was ousted in a coup and later expelled from the political party he helped found, is seeking a comeback. Ranariddh said in a letter to current leaders of the royalist Funcinpec party that he was accepting their invitation to reassume its presidency. It had removed him in 2006 for alleged incompetence. SENT: 450 words, photos.
INDIA-FISHING BOAT EXPLODES
NEW DELHI -- India's Defense Ministry says a coast guard ship intercepted a Pakistani fishing boat suspected of carrying explosives in the Arabian Sea, and the four occupants of the vessel blew it up after a nearly hour-long chase. The ministry said intelligence sources indicated that the boat from near Karachi was planning an unspecified illegal transaction. SENT: 130 words.
BUSINESS AND FINANCE:
SEOUL, South Korea -- Samsung Electronics Co. says its Internet-connected televisions this year will use its internally developed operating system known as Tizen, in the company's latest attempt to boost its software power. It will be Samsung biggest use yet of Tizen in its mainstay products. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 320 words.
SKOREA-HYUNDAI MOTOR-SALES TARGET
SEOUL, South Korea -- Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. are forecasting their weakest growth in yearly car sales in more than a decade as competition intensifies and the global economy slows. Hyundai Motor Group, the world's fifth largest automaker, said the two carmakers aim to sell a combined 8.2 million vehicles this year. By Youkyung Lee. SENT: 260 words, photos.
U.S. AND INTERNATIONAL:
NEW YORK -- Mario Cuomo, a leading liberal voice who served three terms as governor of New York, dies just hours after his son Andrew began his second term as the state's chief executive. He was 82. By David Klepper and Michael Hill. SENT: 1,230 words, photos, video.
IRAQ-FLIGHT FROM WAR
SAEBERAN, Iraq -- For generations trappers in northern Iraq have captured European starlings on their winter migration and sold them at the market in the regional capital Irbil, with most buyers purchasing their freedom as an act of mercy believed to bring good luck. But this year the nearby war with the Islamic State group appears to have scared many of the skittish birds away. By Dalton Bennett. SENT: 570 words, photos.
ITALY-MIGRANTS-STRANDED AT SEA
ROME -- An Icelandic Coast Guard ship tows a cargo vessel to Italy with about 450 migrants who were abandoned by smugglers, leaving the vessel in rough seas without a crew. Italian Coast Guard Cmdr. Filippo Marini says that after several hours of struggling, Italian rescue teams shortly before dawn managed to secure the wave-tossed Ezadeen for towing toward the southern Calabrian region. By Frances D'emilio. SENT: 390 words, photos.
IMMIGRANT DRIVER'S LICENSES
SANTA ANA, Calif. -- California will start taking driver's license applications from the nation's largest population of immigrants in the country illegally. By Amy Taxin. SENT: 480 words, photos.
WASHINGTON -- There's no skunky bar odor amid the beer taps. Instead of booze, colored water fills the bottles. It's a replica of a fully stocked bar at the National Institutes of Health that is being used to help test the safety of a new drug designed to help heavy drinkers say "when" sooner than usual. By Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard. SENT: 780 words, photos.
ALSO GETTING ATTENTION
-- IRAQ -- Gunmen kill three Sunni clerics near the mostly Shiite city of Basra in southern Iraq, an apparent sectarian attack that drew immediate calls for calm. SENT: 340 words.
-- SYRIA -- The main Western-backed Syrian opposition group begins a three-day meeting to discuss a range of issues, including a Russian initiative to hold peace talks in Moscow. SENT: 140 words.
-- BRITAIN-PLANE OFF RUNWAY-- Scotland's ambulance service says two people were injured when a plane veered off a runway on Scotland's wind-whipped Isle of Lewis. SENT: 130 words.
-- MUSIC-BONO -- Bono says he now has a titanium elbow and may never play guitar again due to injuries suffered in a New York City cycling accident. SENT: 220 words, photo.
-- SPAIN-STATION BOMB THREAT -- Police evacuate people from Madrid's Atocha train station and halt trains in and out of the busy city-center station following a bomb threat that police says was a hoax. SENT: 140 words.
YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is David Thurber. Questions and story requests are welcome. The news desk can be reached at (66) 2632-6911 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.
Between 1600 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.