International news in brief: Hong Kong issues Philippines alert in wake of bus hijacking

Hong Kong has expressed angry shock at the Philippines after the deaths of eight of its tourists in a bus hijack, cancelling all travel to the country.

The Chinese government has also demanded a thorough investigation of how the tragedy was handled.

Philippine president Benigno Aquino has promised to provide answers.

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Questions have been raised over how police failed to enter the bus before eight tourists were shot by a rogue policeman.

The police commander in the Philippine capital of Manila, Leocadio Santiago, has defended the way his force dealt with the hostage-taking.

He told local television that it had been correct to let the siege continue until the bus driver escaped and reported that the hijacker had started shooting hostages. Police then assaulted the bus, killing the hijacker, a disgruntled former policeman called Rolando Mendoza.

In Hong Kong a "black" travel warning has been raised, urging all travel to the Philippines to be cancelled and calls on Hong Kong people in the Philippines to leave as soon as possible.

US customs officials seized more than 50lb of marijuana from inside a tombstone being shipped from Jamaica to the UK through Cincinnati.

Officers made the discovery with help from a narcotics detection dog.

A SAUDI court is trying to persuade a man paralysed in a fight to drop his demand to inflict a similar injury on his attacker by having his spinal cord surgically damaged, a spokesman said.

The victim is being urged to take compensation instead.

Pakistan's president said it will take at least three years to recover from the floods that are battering the country.

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Asif Ali Zardari's comments were made as the massive floodwaters continued to sweep southward.

Rescue workers in Chile say they have sent the first supplies of water and food to 33 miners who have been trapped underground for 17 days.

Capsules were sent down a tube, which is the miners' only lifeline.

Rescuers made contact with the miners on Sunday after lowering a probe 2,300ft beneath the surface.

The miners have not been told it may take up to four months to get them out.

Engineers have reinforced the borehole by coating it with a metallic gel to decrease the risk of further rock falls and make it easier to send material down in blue plastic capsules nicknamed "palomas", or doves.

The priority was to get capsules containing water and food in the form of high-energy glucose gel to the miners, as well as a medicine to reduce the acidity in their stomachs.

The miners say that they survived on cans of tuna, milk and biscuits which were stored in the shelter.

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"They had two little spoonfuls of tuna, a sip of milk and a biscuit every 48 hours," said Sergio Aguila, a doctor who is part of the rescue team.

The men were heard singing the national anthem, after microphones were lowered down the borehole.

A team of doctors and psychiatrists will monitor their physical and mental condition during the long wait.

"We need to urgently establish what psychological situation they are in. They need to understand what we know up here at the surface, that it will take many weeks for them to reach the light," Health Minister Jaime Manalich said.

"There has to be leadership established, and to support them and prepare them for what's coming, which is no small thing," he added.

Relatives writing letters to the men have been told to keep them optimistic, Mr Sougarret said.

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