IN BRIEF (Page 12)

Updated: 2011-08-25 07:40

(China Daily)

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China

FM defends boats duties

In response to Japan's protest over two Chinese fishery patrol boats that entered waters near the Diaoyu Islands, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said on Wednesday that China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands and the Chinese fishery patrol boats were carrying out their ordinary duties.

The Diaoyu Islands have been a part of Chinese territory since ancient times, Ma said, adding that China has presented its stance to the Japanese side.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said two Chinese vessels entered the waters early on Wednesday. He said the boats left the area about 30 minutes later after warnings by Japanese Coast Guard patrol boats and aircraft.

United States

Hurricane Irene pounds islands

Hurricane Irene bore down on the Bahamas on Wednesday, churning on a track that could see it slam the US mainland later in the week.

Irene packed winds of 175 kilometers an hour, making it a category two storm on the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.

"Strengthening is forecast, and Irene will likely become a major hurricane later (Wednesday)," the NHC said.

Australia

Seven children killed in fire

At least seven children were among 11 people presumed dead in one of Australia's worst urban fire disasters, officials said on Wednesday, describing it as an "unimaginable" tragedy.

The inferno, which razed a two-story house near the city of Brisbane - reportedly home to two families from Tonga and Samoa - began around midnight, waking neighbors with loud explosions and screams. Three men escaped the blaze and were "traumatized beyond belief", said police Superintendent Noel Powers.

Gaza Strip

Air strikes leave militant dead

Israeli air strikes on Wednesday killed a Palestinian militant, prompting a flurry of mortar fire into southern Israel just days after armed groups agreed to a temporary truce.

Heightened tensions in and around the Gaza border raised fears of a fresh descent into violence scarcely 48 hours after militant factions had agreed to end rocket fire on southern Israel on condition the Israeli air force also stopped its raids.

China Daily-AFP

(China Daily 08/25/2011 page12)