Hundreds fall sick after Imelda Marcos’s birthday party

Guests at celebration for former first lady of Philippines rushed to hospital with suspected food poisoning More than 200 guests fell ill with suspected food poisoning after a meal at a birthday party for Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines. Ambulances rushed vomiting friends and supporters from a sports stadium in Manila, where about 2,500 people gathered to honour the 90-year-old widow of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Although Marcos was toppled by a peaceful uprising in 1986, the family is still revered by many in the Philippines and has made a political comeback in recent years. Our ambulances took people to hospital after they complained of dizziness and vomiting. They apparently suffered from food poisoning, the …

‘I’ve seen terrible, terrible violence’: cocaine and meth fuel crime and chaos in Fiji

The Pacific island nation best known as a holiday destination is grappling with a growing drug problem In the early hours of a Saturday morning in the city of Nadi, on the west coast of Fijis main island, Isaiah* is sitting in a Burger King drinking Fanta through a straw and explaining how he became a drug dealer. He started five years ago, aged 13, selling cigarettes and marijuana. Now he sells cocaine and methamphetamines. My family were selling drugs in Suva, he says. They said there would be a time when me and my cousins would take over. We start training, training, training. Isaiah inhabits Fijis underbelly, far removed from the tourist trail of white sand beaches dotted with …

Japan’s Naruhito makes first public appearance as emperor

Imperial family greet Tokyo crowds six times from palace balcony in Tokyo Tens of thousands of people queued for hours to catch a glimpse of Japans new emperor, Naruhito, as he greeted the public for the first time since his fathers abdication. A smiling Naruhito, 59, appeared on the balcony of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Saturday alongside his wife, Empress Masako, and other members of the imperial family. The forecourt was transformed into a sea of red and white as many wellwishers waved Japanese flags while others snapped photos on their phones. In a short speech, Naruhito told the assembled crowds that he was delighted and deeply grateful. A sea of red and white: the crowd waves Japanese …

Indonesia election: 270 officials die as overwork takes toll in huge poll

Electoral commission says most died from fatigue due caused by long hours counting millions of ballots Ten days after Indonesia held the worlds biggest single-day elections, officials say more than 270 election staff have died, mostly of fatigue-related illneses caused by long hours of work counting millions of ballot papers by hand. The 17 April elections were the first time the country of 260 million people combined the presidential vote with national and regional parliamentary ones, with an aim to cut costs. Voting was largely peaceful and was estimated to have drawn 80% of the total 193 million voters, who each had to punch up to five ballot papers in more than 800,000 polling stations. But conducting the eight-hour vote …

Fukushima disaster: first residents return to town next to nuclear plant

Parts of Okuma are open for business once again, but only a few hundred former residents have moved home A town next to the wrecked deadly earthquake and tsunami triggered a triple meltdown at the nuclear plant in March 2011. Most of Okuma, however, remains off-limits due to high radiation levels. Residents have been permitted to make toxic soil gathered during an unprecedented decontamination drive to reduce radiation to levels that would enable tens of thousands of evacuees to return home. The government has vowed to move the soil out of Fukushima prefecture by 2045, but has yet to find a permanent storage site. Central Okuma in April this year. Parts of the town are open for residents to return. …

Deadly skin-eating fungal disease wipes out 90 amphibian species in 50 years

Study reveals extent of chytrid fungus and how devastating it has been for frog, toad and salamander species worldwide A deadly disease that wiped out global populations of amphibians led to the decline of 500 species in the past 50 years, including 90 extinctions, scientists say. A global research effort, led by the Australian National University, has for the first time quantified the worldwide impact of chytridiomycosis, or chytrid fungus, a fungal disease that eats away at the skin of amphibians. The disease was first discovered in 1998 by researchers at James Cook University in Queensland investigating the cause of mysterious, mass amphibian deaths. Chytridiomycosis is caused by two fungal species, both of which are likely to have originated in …