MONTH IN BRIEF
New tensions on Korean peninsula
North Korea has fired multiple cruise missiles towards the sea off its west coast, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, in the latest sign of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula. The missiles were fired at around 7am North Korea time on Jan. 24, and the launches were being analysed by South Korean and US intelligence, the JCS said in a statement. Further activities by the North were being monitored.
Hindus throng to Ram temple
Tens of thousands of Hindus faced 8 degrees Celsius temperatures on Jan. 23 to pray at a new temple to Lord Ram in India’s northern city of Ayodhya, a day after its inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a site believed to be the god-king’s birthplace. Hindu groups, Mr Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and its affiliates. have portrayed the opening as part of a Hindu renaissance after past centuries of subjugation by Muslim invaders and colonial powers. Some 200,000 arrived in the city after the consecration, said Mr Murli Dhar Singh, a government official.
South China Sea patrols
China’s military conducted routine patrols with its naval and air forces in the South China Sea from Jan 3 to 4, as ongoing tensions simmer in the region over disputed territories.
The military’s Southern Theatre Command said troops in the area were on high alert at all times, ready to defend national sovereignty, security and maritime rights. The aim of the patrols was also to deter activities that disrupt the South China Sea and create ‘hot spots’, the military said on its Southern Theatre Command’s WeChat account.
Crossing the line
Nearly 300 Myanmar soldiers have crossed the border into India to flee an advance by armed insurgents fighting the country’s junta. Clashes have rocked parts of Myanmar near the Indian border since the Arakan Army (AA) attacked security forces in November 2023, ending a ceasefire that had largely held since a 2021 military coup. The group said it had taken over the major town of Paletwa and six military bases along the border of India’s Mizoram state, where the soldiers had crossed on Jan. 17.
Eruptions in Indonesia
More than 2,000 residents have been evacuated to temporary shelters amid heightened volcanic activity in a volcano in eastern Indonesia. Mount Lewotobi Laki-Laki in East Nusa Tenggara province erupted several times in December and early January, including an eruption on Jan. 1 that spewed volcanic ash 1.5km above its peak, according to the Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation.The agency recorded another eruption from Lewotobi Laki-Laki on Jan 2 but ash clouds from the volcano were not observed, it said in a statement.
Nepal’s clean power plan
Two villages near Nepal’s border with Tibet are getting power from an unusual source: a threatening glacial lake.In this high-altitude region, climate change is accelerating the melting of mountain ice, with villages located below fast-filling glacial lakes facing a rising risk of catastrophic flooding. But efforts to drain some of the excess water building up in the lakes in order to lower surging disaster risk also present an opportunity to boost clean power production using small hydropower generators in the drainage channels.
A lion cub has been spotted going on a joyride in the back of a white open-top Bentley, cruising through the streets of Pattaya in Thailand. In a much viewed video doing the rounds on social media, the cub – wearing a fluorescent yellow collar and apparently unfazed by the trip – was seen being driven down the streets of the popular tourist destination watched by bewildered onlookers. But while netizens expressed their amusement over the video, some questioned whether owning such an exotic animal is legal in Thailand.
India into orbit
India has launched its first satellite to study black holes, as it seeks to expand its space exploration efforts ahead of an ambitious crewed mission in 2025. The spacecraft, X-ray Polarimeter Satellite, was propelled into an orbit of 350km from an island near India’s main spaceport of Sriharikota, off the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, according to Dr S. Somanath, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The satellite, weighing about 470kg, will conduct research on X-rays emanating from around 50 celestial objects, with the help of two systems built by Isro and a Bengaluru-based research institute.