Indonesians dig for mudslide survivors
LEMBATA, Indonesia -- The death toll from mudslides in eastern Indonesia has risen to 119 with scores still missing, officials said today, as rain continued to pound the region and hamper the search.
On Lembata island, the downpour triggered by Tropical Cyclone Seroja sent solidified lava from a volcanic eruption in November to crash down on more than a dozen villages, killing at least 28 people and leaving 44 unaccounted for, according to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.
Hundreds of police, soldiers and residents dug through the debris with their bare hands, shovels and hoes to search for those who were buried.
Rescue efforts were being hampered by the rains and the remoteness of the area, where roads and bridges were damaged in many places.
Rescue personnel with excavators and tons of food and medicine were being deployed from Makassar city on Sulawesi island, but they were hindered by a lack of sea transportation. National Disaster Mitigation Agency chief Doni Monardo called on the private sector to support relief efforts.
Three helicopters began reaching isolated areas of the islands on Tuesday.
Comic held in Burma protest crackdown
RANGOON, Burma -- Authorities in Burma arrested the country's best-known comedian Tuesday as they continue to crack down on people they accuse of helping incite nationwide protests against February's military coup.
The comedian Zarganar was taken from his home in Rangoon by police and soldiers who arrived in two army vehicles, fellow comedian Ngepyawkyaw said on his own Facebook page. Zarganar, 60, is a sharp-tongued satirist who has been in and out of prison since he was active in a failed 1988 popular uprising against a previous military dictatorship. He is also well known for his social work, especially arranging assistance for victims of Cyclone Nargis in 2008.
In the past week, the junta has issued arrest warrants for about 100 people active in the fields of literature, film, theater arts, music and journalism on charges of spreading information that undermines the stability of the country and the rule of law. It was not immediately clear what Zarganar, whose real name is Maung Thura, has been charged with.
At least 570 protesters and bystanders, including 47 children, have been killed in the crackdown since the takeover, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which monitors casualties and arrests.
UAE expelling nude-photo participants
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Those involved in a naked photo shoot on a high-rise balcony in Dubai will be deported, authorities said Tuesday, after the footage went viral and prompted a crackdown in the Gulf Arab sheikhdom.
Dubai authorities detained at least 11 Ukrainian women who posed naked in broad daylight along with a male Russian photographer on charges of public debauchery and producing pornography. Earlier this week, images and videos of the naked women splattered across social media and sent a wave of shock through the emirate, where a legal code based on Islamic law, or Shariah, has landed foreigners in jail for tamer offenses.
After an unusually speedy investigation, Dubai's Attorney General Essam Issa al-Humaidan announced that those behind the photo shoot would be sent back to their countries, without elaborating further. Dubai police have declined to identify those detained. More than a dozen women appeared in the widely shared video. Ukrainian and Russian authorities confirmed the arrest of their citizens Tuesday, but the nationalities of the others detained were not immediately known.
2 Ukrainian troops killed in fighting
KYIV, Ukraine -- Ukraine's military said Tuesday that two of its servicemen were killed within 24 hours in the country's east, where Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russian-backed separatists since 2014 and where tensions have intensified in recent weeks.
The two military members suffered fatal gunshot wounds as a result of a "hostile fire," the Joint Forces Operation reported.
Firefights have occurred sporadically since tensions in eastern Ukraine escalated in late February. Ukraine's military reported March 26 that four of its soldiers died in a mortar attack, the most significant violation this year of a ceasefire that had led to a decline in fighting.
In the past 24 hours, seven firefights took place along the line of contact, the Ukrainian military said.
More than 14,000 people have died in the eastern Ukraine conflict since 2014.
Officials in Kyiv and the West expressed concerns over reports of a troop buildup along Russia's borders with Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Russia last week of "muscle-flexing in the form of military exercises and possible provocations along the border."
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that the troop movements "shouldn't cause the slightest concern" and that Russia doesn't pose a threat "to any country in the world, including Ukraine."
-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports