Top Asian News 4:59 a.m. GMT
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea reconfirmed Tuesday that Seoul and Washington are discussing South Korea being involved in U.S. nuclear asset management in the face of intensifying North Korean nuclear threats, after President Joe Biden denied that the allies were discussing joint nuclear exercises. The difference came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un entered the new year with a vow to mass-produce battlefield nuclear weapons targeting South Korea and introduce a more powerful intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the mainland U.S. Some experts say Kim would eventually aim to use his enlarged weapons arsenal to wrest outside concessions like sanctions relief.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A pilot, two British visitors and a Sydney woman have been identified as the four people killed in a collision of two helicopters over the waterfront at an Australian tourist hotspot. Authorities say it was fortunate the death toll in the crash of two aircraft operated by Sea World Helicopters was not higher. The pilot of the second helicopter managed to land safely on a sandy outcrop despite the aircraft being damaged in the collision Monday afternoon near Main Beach on Australia’s Gold Coast. “Considering the damage that was done to the front left-hand section of the helicopter, where the pilot was sitting, that has been a remarkable achievement,” said Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell, whose office is investigating the crash.
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Two children were killed and five other civilians wounded in a blast in a village in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Monday, a day after assailants sprayed bullets toward a row of homes, leaving at least four dead, police said. The blast occurred near one of the houses targeted overnight in Dhangri village in southern Rajouri district. A 5-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl died in the blast. The injured were being treated at a hospital. On Sunday night, two gunmen indiscriminately opened fire at three houses in Dhangri, top police officer Mukesh Singh told reporters. He said four civilians were killed and five others were wounded.
NEW DELHI (AP) — When midnight approaches in New Delhi and a freezing fog settles over the Indian capital, thousands of homeless people spread torn mattresses and blankets on the pavements and lie on them to keep warm. Those who can’t afford the blankets spend the night around a smoldering fire built with garbage and discarded cardboard boxes. Others hunker down in a government shelter system. It’s a scene that repeats itself every year when India’s capital experiences a harsh bout of winter cold, blamed for killing scores of homeless people and leaving tens of thousands of others shivering on the streets.
MACAO (AP) — Only a few tourists crisscrossed the wavy black and white paving of Macao’s historic Senado Square on a recent weekday and many of the shops were shuttered. The gaming hub on China’s south coast near Hong Kong has endured some of the world’s strictest anti-virus controls for nearly three years, and a loosening of border restrictions after China rolled back its “zero-COVID” strategy in early December is widely expected to boost its tourism-driven economy. But for now, China’s worst wave of infections so far is keeping away the hoards of high rollers who usually fill its casinos. From Dec.
BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union nations will try again on Wednesday to mold a coordinated approach on if and how authorities should check incoming airline passengers from China for any new COVID-19 variants after several member nations announced individual efforts over the past week. Belgium said late Monday it would be checking wastewater from planes coming in from China to see if it yields new clues about any potentially dangerous variants. It said that it would urge visitors from China who do not feel well to take a COVID-19 test. More should be done, but only in a coordinated approach among the 27 member states, said Belgian Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.
TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and his family waved to throngs of New Year’s well-wishers from the balcony at the Imperial Palace on Monday in the return of a celebration halted for the past two years by the pandemic. Naruhito offered prayers for people’s happiness and world peace in the appearance Monday beside his wife, Empress Masako, and their daughter. Princess Aiko, who turned 21 in December, was appearing in her first New Year’s public greeting. Legal adulthood is 20 in Japan and a condition for taking part in some events featuring the emperor’s family. Also standing by was Emperor Emeritus Akihito, who abdicated in favor of his son in 2019, and his wife, Empress Emerita Michiko.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Thousands of people in the Philippines remained in emergency shelters in the wake of devastating Christmas flooding, as the death toll climbed to 51 with 19 missing, authorities said Monday. Images showed residents in southern Misamis Occidental province sweeping away thick mud from the floors of their homes. In the seaside village of Cabol-anonan, coconut trees were uprooted and huts made of light material were nearly flattened. The Northern Mindanao region bore the brunt of the disaster, reporting 25 deaths, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Most of the deaths were from drowning and landslides, and among the missing were fishermen whose boats capsized.
NEW DELHI (AP) — India’s top court said Monday that the government’s surprise decision in 2016 to demonetize high-value bills was legal and taken after consultation with India’s central bank. The five-judge constitution bench was hearing petitions challenging the currency ban that rendered 86% of India’s currency invalid without warning. They contended that the move was not a considered decision of the government and should be struck down by the court. Four judges on the five-member bench said the government made the decision after consulting with the Reserve Bank of India and stated there was no flaw in the decision-making process.
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s political and military leadership on Monday vowed that no nation will be allowed to shelter militants who stage attacks against the country — an apparent reference to neighboring Afghanistan. The statement came amid a spike in attacks by the militant Pakistani Taliban, many of whom are hiding in neighboring Afghanistan. The attacks are on the rise across Pakistan, especially in the northwest near the Afghan border. The announcement came at the end of a lengthy meeting of Pakistan’s National Security Committee, which was attended by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the newly appointed army chief Gen. Asim Munir, and other officials.