Top Asian News at 2:00 a.m. GMT

Associated Press

MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — The captain of a sunken South Korean ferry was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need, as investigators looked into whether his evacuation order came too late to save lives. Two crew members were also arrested, a prosecutor said. The disaster three days ago left more than 270 people missing and at least 29 people dead.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A prosecutor says the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago has been arrested. Senior prosecutor Yang Jung-jin says 68-year-old Lee Joon-seok and the crew members were detained early Saturday.

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving four missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak. Several more were injured. The Sherpa guides had gone to fix ropes for other climbers when the avalanche struck an area known as the "popcorn field" for its bulging chunks of ice at about 6:30 a.m., Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal said from the base camp, where he was monitoring rescue efforts.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Following is the transcript released by the Ministry of Ocean and Fisheries of the conversation between Jeju Vessel Traffic Services Center (VTS) on Jeju Island and The Sewol, the ferry that sank on Wednesday. The original transcript is in Korean and the translation was done by The Associated Press. It starts off form the first distress call made by the ferry: Radio conversation on VHF (very high frequency) Channel 12

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Most didn't notice the new library at this Islamic seminary for girls near Pakistan's capital, until locals saw the paper sign in Urdu posted on its wooden door: "Library of Osama bin Laden, the Martyr." Cleric Maulana Abdul Aziz, a radical preacher who runs the Jamia Hafsa madrassa, wanted to honor the memory of the al-Qaida leader, killed in a May 2011 raid by U.S. Navy SEALs on his hiding place in Abbottabad, a garrison town about 125 kilometers (75 miles) north of the capital, Islamabad.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House is focusing President Barack Obama's upcoming Asia-Pacific trip on the economic benefits of closer ties to the region, but regional security concerns are likely to be pushed higher on the president's agenda because of the tense situation between Russia and Ukraine. Japan and South Korea, two of the four countries Obama will visit next week, are eyeing the fluid developments in Eastern Europe through the lens of their own sea and air disputes with China, and North Korean provocations. The leaders of Japan and South Korea, both close U.S. allies, will want Obama's reassurance that the U.S. will back them up.

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Six weeks into the extensive search for the lost Malaysia Airlines plane without so much as a piece of debris yet found, several Chinese relatives met Friday to pray for spouses who never came home, while begging for answers that could end their misery of not knowing. Candles burned on a table in the shape of a heart with the letters MH370 in the middle while about three dozen relatives held a prayer service at a hotel ballroom in Beijing where they have been meeting since the Boeing 777 mysteriously vanished. A banner behind them read in Chinese: "Husband, wife, come home soon."

TOKYO (AP) — Japan will target fewer whales when its Pacific hunt begins next week and will observe them in the Antarctic next season with the aim of resuming full-fledged commercial whaling, the fisheries minister said Friday. The announcement underscored that Japan hasn't abandoned its plans to continue whaling in both oceans for research purposes, an allowed exception to a global ban on commercial whaling. Last month, the International Court of Justice ordered Japan to suspend its Antarctic program because it was virtually commercial, not scientific as Japan had contended.

BEIJING (AP) — Faced with growing public anger about a poisonous environment, China's government released a yearslong study that shows nearly one-fifth of the country's farmland is contaminated with toxic metals, a stunning indictment of unfettered industrialization under the Communist Party's authoritarian rule. The report, previously deemed so sensitive it was classified as a state secret, names the heavy metals cadmium, nickel and arsenic as the top contaminants.

WASHINGTON (AP) — When President Barack Obama travels abroad, sometimes it's not enough for just the leader of the free world to show up. People in other countries want the first lady, too. But Michelle Obama won't join her husband when he heads to Asia next week, and her absence is likely to sting, especially in image-conscious Japan. It's the first of four countries on Obama's travel schedule and one of two that are welcoming him with official state visits.

SAN PEDRO CUTUD, Philippines (AP) — Devotees in northern Philippine villages had themselves nailed to wooded crosses to re-enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as thousands of local and foreign spectators watched the bloody annual rites to mark Good Friday in Asia's largest Roman Catholic nation. Church leaders and health officials have spoken against the practice, which mixes Roman Catholic devotion with folk belief, but the annual rites continue to draw participants and huge crowds, particularly in northern Pampanga province.

KUPANG, Indonesia (AP) — A boat loaded with people in a Good Friday procession capsized in high waves off eastern Indonesia, leaving dozens of people missing and at least seven dead, police said. Rescuers and fishermen saved 30 injured people who were rushed to a hospital, local police spokesman Lt. Col. Okto Riwu said. The fishing boat was designed to hold only 30 people but had more than 70 aboard.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A Chinese man who was being repatriated from Vietnam along with 15 other migrants seized a gun from a border guard on Friday, triggering a gunfight and standoff in which five Chinese and two Vietnamese guards died, Vietnam's government said. Vietnamese authorities detained the 16 Chinese — 10 men, four women and two children — after they entered the country illegally in Quang Ninh province, the regional government said in a statement.

HAT YAI, Thailand (AP) — A suspected insurgent and his 6-year-old son were shot dead in Thailand's violence-plagued south, police said Friday. The man and his son were attacked at a rubber plantation in Bannang Sata distict in Yala province on Thursday, police Col. Chartchai Chanasit said.

SYDNEY (AP) — Britain's Prince William and his wife, Kate, have enjoyed a sheep-shearing demonstration and greeted crowds of flower-bearing fans at an agricultural fair in Sydney. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spent Friday morning at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, an annual fair that brings country life to the city with animals, rides and wood-chopping competitions.

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