Top Asian News 6:27 a.m. GMT
SIERRA MADRE MOUNTAINS, Philippines (AP) — In the late-night hours and amid the chirp of crickets, Katryn welcomed a huddle of exhausted Filipino journalists in cheerful spirits like she was home. "Coffee?" she asked with a comforting smile. Comrade Katryn is her nom de guerre, however, and for her, home is a rebel encampment concealed in the rain-soaked wilderness of the Philippines' Sierra Madre Mountains. The 24-year-old walked away from her family two years ago to join one of the world's longest-raging Marxist rebellions. Mostly in their 20s and 30s, a few dozen New People's Army guerrillas lugged M16 rifles and grenade launchers on a plateau where red hammer-and-sickle flags adorned a makeshift hall.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Aboriginal traditional dancers carrying clap sticks and spears and with faces painted white with clay traveled from remote northern Australia to Parliament House on Monday to draw attention to rampant domestic violence in Outback indigenous communities. Scores of Rirratjingu people flew 2,900 kilometers (1,800 miles) from Yirrkala in the Northern Territory to dance a ceremony at the front door of Parliament and to urge national action against family violence in communities such as theirs. "We are seeing horrifying rates of family violence in indigenous communities and it is incumbent on all people — community leaders, political leaders and businesses — to act to drive it down," Rirratjingu elder Bakamumu Marika said.
BANGKOK (AP) — A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves: ___ EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest key developments in the South China Sea, home to several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region. ___ CHINA'S THINK TANK SAYS U.S. NAVAL OPERATIONS UNDERMINE ITS SOVEREIGNTY China's government-backed institute for the South China Sea has released a report detailing an increase in U.S.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — In each of the past five Saturday evenings, thousands of protesters have transformed a darkened avenue near the South Korean presidential palace into a sea of light, waving candles, glowing smartphones and battery-powered LED sticks, singing and shouting for President Park Geun-hye to step down. Candlelight vigils have become the main form of mass, peaceful demonstrations in South Korea since the early 2000s, reshaping a national protest culture once known for its ferocity. Thousands participated in candlelight vigils in 2002 protesting the death of two schoolgirls struck by a U.S. military vehicle, and in 2008 over Seoul's decision to resume U.S.
KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — An earthquake with an epicenter near Mount Everest on Monday woke up people in Nepal, which is still recovering from last year's devastating tremors. The United States Geological Survey said Monday's earthquake had a magnitude of 5.4. Nepal's National Seismology Center said the epicenter was on the border between Ramechap and Solukhumbu districts, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of the capital, Kathmandu. Police said there were no immediate reports of casualties or damages, but since the quake was in the mountains with remote villages, it could take time for any reports to come in. In Kathmandu, resident fled their houses after they were awoken by the pre-dawn earthquake.
At least 146 people were killed when an overnight passenger train rolled off the track in northern India last week, the country's worst train accident in years. The train was about midway through a 27-hour journey between the cities of Indore and Patna when it slid off the tracks. The impact was so strong that one of the coaches landed atop another, crushing the one below. In other images from the Asia-Pacific region last week, thousands of Filipinos, including more than a dozen nude students, protested against the hasty burial of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a heroes' cemetery, in a growing political storm that's lashing the president who allowed the entombment.
TOKYO (AP) — About 5,000 dead fish packed in the ice at a skating rink in western Japan are causing an uproar. Space World amusement park closed the attraction Sunday after a flood of criticism on social media. About 25 different kinds of fish could be seen under the 250-meter (820-foot) -long ice circuit. The park in the city of Kitakyushu opened the "Ice Aquarium" as an "attraction never heard about" earlier this month. Space World said that the fish were intended "to give the feel of the ocean to the ice skating rink," and that the amusement park is "extremely remorseful to have invoked such unpleasant feelings." The amusement park plans to hold a memorial service for the fish once they are taken out of the ice.
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Manila police detonated an improvised bomb found Monday in a trash bin near the U.S. Embassy, snarling morning traffic after authorities closed a portion of a major boulevard where the device was found. No one was reported hurt in the incident. Two explosions were heard as a bomb disposal unit detonated what Metropolitan Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde later described as an improvised explosive device. Street sweeper Winniefreda Francisco said she called police after finding a cellphone attached to a bottle-like cylinder wrapped in black tape, with wires connecting the cylinder to the phone. The trash bin where the device was found was about 20 meters (22 yards) from the embassy compound.
BEIJING (AP) — Nine executives are being held responsible by the Chinese government for a power plant accident where 74 workers were killed when an under-construction cooling tower collapsed, state media reported Monday. Those under detention included the board chairman of engineering firm Hebei Yineng, a major builder of power plants that has a record of workplace deaths, state media reported. The chief manager, deputy manager and director of engineering for the project were also detained. Laborers were building a circular cooling tower in the southern province of Jiangxi when the interior scaffolding collapsed last Wednesday, releasing a cascade of steel, concrete and wooden planks.
BEIJING (AP) — China's government has announced plans to build a $2 billion film studio as part of a national push to expand its cultural influence. The studio in the southwest municipality of Chongqing will include a theme park and tourist attractions, state media reported late Sunday. Construction will begin early next year and is expected to cost 15 billion yuan ($2.18 billion). Officials say they have operating agreements already with several foreign partners. The official Xinhua News Agency said the park would include tie-ins with gaming and online entertainment. The park will be named after President Xi Jinping's signature "One Belt, One Road" program, a multibillion-dollar effort to deepen China's economic and cultural ties with its western and southern neighbors reaching as far as east Africa.