Top Asian News at 3:00 p.m. GMT

Associated Press

JINDO, South Korea (AP) — A transcript released Sunday shows the South Korean ferry that sank was crippled with confusion and indecision well after it began listing dangerously, possibly adding to a death toll that is officially at 58 but could eventually exceed 300. Three times in succession, and about half an hour after the ferry Sewol began tilting on Wednesday, a crew member asked Jindo Vessel Traffic Services Center (VTS) whether passengers would be rescued if they abandoned ship off South Korea's southern coast. That followed several statements from the ship that it was impossible for people aboard to even move, and another in which it said it was "impossible to broadcast" instructions.

MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — It is a decision that has maritime experts stumped and is at odds with standard procedure: Why were the passengers of the doomed South Korean ferry told to stay in their rooms rather than climb on deck? Evacuations can be chaotic and dangerous, and an important principle in maritime circles is that even a damaged ship may be the best lifeboat. But car ferries like the Sewol, which left about 300 people missing or dead when it sank Wednesday, are different.

JINDO, South Korea (AP) — The following is a portion of the transcript released Sunday by the South Korean coast guard of the conversation between the ferry that sank Wednesday and the Jindo Vessel Traffic Services Center (VTS) on Jindo island. The ferry Sewol issued its distress call to another VTS center before these communications began. The Associated Press translated the transcript from Korean. The names of other ships included in the transcript are omitted at the request of South Korean authorities. 9:07 a.m.

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Survivors of Mount Everest's deadliest avalanche recalled scenes of panic and chaos, describing Sunday how they dug through snow with their hands and ice axes in hopes of finding their friends alive. Just minutes before the avalanche hit on Friday, about 60 Sherpa guides had been backed up along the dangerous Khumbu Icefall — the edge of a slow-moving glacier known to calve and crack without warning. They heard the sickening boom of ice breaking above, and then the roar of it coming down around them.

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — The rescuers moved quickly, minutes after the first block of ice tore loose from Mount Everest and started an avalanche that roared down the mountain, ripping through teams of guides hauling gear. But they couldn't get there quickly enough. No one can move that fast. Not even the people who have spent their lives in Everest's shadow, and who have spent years working on the world's highest peak.

PERTH, Australia (AP) — A Malaysian official met Sunday with relatives of passengers who were aboard the missing jetliner and discussed ways of providing them with financial assistance, as an unmanned submarine continued to search for any signs of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Hamzah Zainuddin met with the passengers' relatives in Kuala Lumpur to talk about where to go next. Financial assistance was discussed and family members were urged to submit a plan for consideration. He declined to elaborate further, but said a fund could possibly be set up by the government or Malaysia Airlines.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — New partial results in Afghanistan's presidential election released Sunday show candidate Abdullah Abdullah is still the front-runner, though a runoff election looks likely. The winner will replace Hamid Karzai, the only president the country has known since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion ousted the Taliban, and will oversee a tumultuous period during which the U.S. and NATO forces are expected to withdraw most of their troops from the country.

HAT YAI, Thailand (AP) — Police in southern Thailand say suspected insurgents shot dead three people, including a 2-year-old girl, in a drive-by shooting. Police Col. Chartchai Chanasit says two gunmen riding on a motorcycle carried out the attack on Sunday in the Bannang Sata district of Yala province.

WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Barack Obama travels through Asia this coming week, he will confront a region that's warily watching the crisis in Ukraine through the prism of its own territorial tensions with China. Each of the four countries on Obama's itinerary — Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines — has a dispute with Beijing over islands and waters in the South and East China Seas. Their leaders will be weighing Obama's willingness to support them if those conflicts boil over.

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Myanmar says fighting between government troops and ethnic rebels in the northeastern, strife-torn state of Kachin has left at least 22 people dead this month. The clashes in Kachin come despite efforts by President Thein Sein's government to forge a nationwide cease-fire agreement with all armed ethnic groups — a deadline that has repeatedly been pushed back because of ongoing clashes.

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese Cabinet minister on Sunday visited a Tokyo shrine that honors the dead including war criminals, in what has repeatedly caused friction with Japan's neighbors. Lawmaker Keiji Furuya, who chairs the National Public Safety Commission, said on his website that he paid respects Sunday morning at the Yasukuni shrine ahead of a festival that starts Monday.

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani police say a passenger bus has rammed into a disabled flatbed trailer parked on the side of a highway in the south, killing at least 36 people, including 17 women and children. Police officer Zia Soomro says the bus was headed north near the town of Pannu Aqil when it hit the truck early Sunday.

JINDO, South Korea (AP) — The informal briefing by a South Korean coast guard rescuer started calmly enough. He stood on a stage in front of relatives of those missing from a sunken ferry, explaining how divers trying to find their loved ones are hampered by poor visibility and can venture only so deep. Less than an hour later, Saturday's meeting had unraveled. A few dozen relatives rose from the gymnasium floor and surged toward the stage, hurling rapid-fire questions — and a thick, rolled-up wad of paper — at the officials, who stood mostly silently, their heads bowed. One man tried to choke a coast guard lieutenant and punch a maritime policeman, but missed.

Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers. Samuel Rogers, a 20-year-old German on a backpacking trip, in Bangkok and on his way to Malaysia.

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Police in Pakistan say gunmen have shot a famous television talk show host amid a wave of attacks on journalists in the country. Police say Hamid Mir, a host on the private television broadcaster Geo, was wounded in the attack Saturday near Karachi's airport.

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