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Heavy equipment falls into Fukushima reactor pool: TEPCO TOKYO: A 400-kilogramme (880-pound) machine part fell into a nuclear fuel pool at Japan's crippled Fukushima plant Friday, the operator said.Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), said it had not detected any significant changes in radiation readings or in the level of pool water at the No. 3 reactor.A massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 ravaged Japan's northeastern coast and wrecked the plant, sparking meltdowns at three of its six reactors.Friday's incident occurred shortly after noon during a remotely controlled operation to remove debris from the fuel pool at the unit where the broken reactor still lies untouched. The pool contains 566 fuel rods, most of which are spent.The operating console of the fuel handling machine slipped loose and fell into the pool as it was about to be lifted by a crane, TEPCO said in a statement.The console weighed 400 kilogrammes and measured 160 centimetres (63 inches) by 90 cm ...

Negotiations underway to free Fijian peacekeepers: PM SUVA: Talks were underway Friday to release 43 Fijian peacekeepers taken hostage by Syrian rebels in the Golan Heights, the Pacific nation's Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said.Bainimarama said the peacekeepers were believed to be safe and his government was working closely with the United Nations to secure their release."The latest information we have is that they are safe and I can say now that the negotiations for their release have already begun," he said in ...
Japan defence ministry asks for record budget TOKYO: Japan's defence ministry on Friday made its biggest ever budget request, as Tokyo bolsters its military amid worries over China's expanding naval reach.The ministry wants 5.05 trillion yen ($48.7 billion) for the year, with the focus on boosting protection of a string of southern islands that stretches from Kyushu to waters near Taiwan.The request, if approved, would mark the third straight annual defence budget increase and a 3.5 percent rise from the budget for ...
China landslide toll rises to 15: report BEIJING: The death toll from a landslide that destroyed a Chinese village has risen to 15, state media reported Friday.Half of a 600-metre high knoll near Fuquan city in the southwestern province of Guizhou broke free and "wiped out a majority of the village" at its base, the official Xinhua news agency said.Rescue workers were still trying to extract survivors from the debris, it added. Pictures showed emergency personnel levering up huge slabs of tiled ...
Indonesia, Australia sign deal to end spying row NUSA DUA: Indonesia and Australia on Thursday signed an agreement aimed at drawing a line under a damaging espionage row and paving the way for the resumption of full cooperation on issues such as defence.Ties between the neighbours sank to their lowest point in years in November after reports that Australian spies tried to tap the phones of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his inner circle.Jakarta recalled its ambassador from Canberra and suspended cooperation in ...
MH370 may have turned south 'earlier' than thought CANBERRA: The hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 will focus on the southern part of the existing search zone after a new clue to the plane's possible location emerged, Australia said on Thursday.Fresh information suggested the jet "may have turned south" earlier than thought, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss said.The detail came to light following "further refinement" of satellite data and as investigators attempted to map the plane's position during a failed attempt to ...
Japan seeks to double budget for disputed islands patrol TOKYO: Japan's coastguard is to ask for a doubling of its budget to boost patrols around islands that are the focus of a dispute with China, officials said Thursday.The agency will submit a request to the government for 50.4 billion yen ($485 million) for the financial year starting in April 2015, they said.The move will come after two years of relentless tensions with Beijing over the Tokyo-controlled Senkaku Islands, which Japan nationalised in September 2012.That ...

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