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In Brief

In Brief

Ramadan road rush leaves 224 dead
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia
Road crashes claimed 224 lives during recent Muslim festivities when millions of Malaysians drove out of cities to return to their hometowns, police said yesterday.
The 15-day death toll - mostly affecting motorcyclists - came close to the 228 traffic fatalities during last year's Eid al-Fitr holiday season, despite a major safety campaign that flooded radio airwaves with reminders to drive carefully.
More than 100,000 motorists were fined for traffic violations between October 7 and 21, the period when Muslims traveled to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, according to police statistics. The total number of accidents nationwide exceeded 10,000.
"We should not blame the government for this," Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak said. "If (people are) breaking the speed limit, driving in an unsafe manner such as overtaking at dangerous corners ... then it's not surprising that accidents continue to occur."
Ferry sinks, 30 missing
JAKARTA, Indonesian
About 30 people are believed to be missing after an Indonesian ferry sank off Sulawesi island last week, killing at least 31 people, an official said yesterday.
The boat capsized last Thursday when passengers rushed to the roof to pick up a mobile phone signal as it approached the coast, officials have said.
"After synchronizing reports from various parties, we have concluded that 30 people are missing after the Acita 03 sank," said an official at the disaster management center in Bau Bau, where the boat was supposed to have docked.
Triyono, head of administration at Bau Bau port, said an extensive search involving the Indonesian navy, maritime police and local search and rescue teams continued for the fourth day yesterday.
Factory fire kills 37
BEIJING, China
A fire at an illegal shoe factory in southeastern China killed 37 people and injured more than a dozen others, authorities said yesterday.
The blaze started Sunday night in a workshop making shoe uppers and burned more than 520 square meters, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing Zhu Qing, director of the information office of the Fujian provincial government.
There were 56 workers in the factory at the time, said a woman surnamed Zhou in the information office of the Putian city Communist Party committee. Besides the 37 dead, 19 were being treated at hospitals, she said.
Factory accidents in China kill thousands each year in fires, explosions and other incidents, most often blamed on insufficient safety equipment and workers ignoring safety guidelines.
Kidnapper rejected
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia
A 60-year-old farmer was so determined to marry a 28-year-old estate worker in Malaysia he kidnapped her when she turned down his proposal, police said yesterday.
The farmer forced the woman into his car while she was walking home from work in eastern Terengganu state, the New Straits Times reported.
But a friend of the woman witnessed her abduction Thursday and informed police, who contacted the man's relatives to persuade him to free her. Nine hours later the woman was released unharmed and the farmer surrendered to police, said the newspaper.
The reluctant couple have not been identified.