Top Asian News at 4:00 p.m. GMT

Associated Press

NEW DELHI (AP) — Torrential rains triggered a massive landslide that buried a remote village in western India on Wednesday, killing at least 17 people as it swept away scores of houses and possibly trapping many more people under debris, officials said. National rescue personnel reached the area before nightfall. But continuing rains and bad roads were hampering rescue efforts and preventing reinforcements from reaching Ambegaon, a village in Pune district in Maharashtra state, said Alok Avasthy, a National Disaster Response Force commander.

BEIJING (AP) — The investigation into China's former security chief Zhou Yongkang could pave the way for him to stand trial as the most senior politician ever prosecuted for graft. It's hard to predict how his case will be handled in the opaque, secretive world of Chinese politics, but here's how such prosecutions tend to play out, though not necessarily always in this sequence: ASSOCIATES FALL

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — A United Nations-assisted tribunal on Wednesday cleared the way to begin the genocide trial of two elderly former top leaders of Cambodia's 1970s Khmer Rouge regime. Survivors of the communist regime's reign of terror, along with students and Buddhist monks, attended a hearing that laid down the ground rules for the trial, which judges said would likely start in September or October.

Buddhist monks and ordinary Cambodians attended a hearing Wednesday in which a U.N.-backed tribunal prepared for the genocide trial later this year of two surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge. The tribunal encourages people to attend the hearings, such as school groups and elderly survivors of the regime that brutally ruled Cambodia in the late 1970s. In this photo, monks from a pagoda in Phnom Penh who attended the hearing read during a court break. The tribunal prepares booklets to give attendees an overview of the court's work, the case and the defendants.

NEW DELHI (AP) — An Indian court convicted 10 people on Wednesday in a 2004 fire that tore through a thatched-roof schoolhouse, killing 94 children in a horrifying case that focused attention on poor fire regulations in the country. The owner of the primary school was sentenced to life in prison on charges including culpable homicide and endangerment, while his wife, the headmistress, the cook and the meal planner were each imprisoned for five years, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired four short-range projectiles toward the ocean off its east coast on Wednesday in its latest in a series of missile and artillery tests, officials said. A South Korean Defense Ministry official said the North fired two projectiles in the morning and two in the afternoon from a site at Mount Myohyang northeast of Pyongyang. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department rules.

KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (AP) — Japan has been practicing storming beaches with the U.S. and other countries in Hawaii this month. The amphibious landing exercises, which are relatively new to Japan's military, come as Tokyo tries to boost its ability to defend small islands it controls but China claims as its own. Helicopters dropped a reconnaissance team of Japanese soldiers into the ocean off a beach at a U.S. Marine Corps base during Rim of the Pacific exercises on Tuesday. The soldiers climbed aboard inflatable rafts and inspected the shoreline before waves of U.S., Australian and Indonesian marines followed in amphibious vehicles.

BANGKOK (AP) — Thailand's military government approved a massive budget to upgrade the country's railways including high-speed rail that would eventually link with China as part of an eight-year plan to improve infrastructure, officials said Wednesday. The junta approved 741.46 billion baht ($23.3 billion) to build two high-speed train routes that will connect Thailand's industrialized eastern seaboard with its northern and the northeastern borders, Transport Ministry permanent secretary Soithip Traisuth said.

BEIJING (AP) — An outspoken Chinese minority scholar was indicted on separatism charges Wednesday amid a renewed flare-up of bloody anti-government violence in the country's far west. The prosecutor's office in the Xinjiang regional capital of Urumqi announced the indictment of economics professor Ilham Tohti in a brief online statement.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's prime minister said Wednesday that he is not considering ratcheting up sanctions against Russia while his government focuses on retrieving Australian victims from the wreckage of the Malaysian airliner disaster in Ukraine. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has had several telephone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past two weeks and has credited him for cooperating with international efforts to retrieve the remains of the 298 people killed when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down by a missile. Pro-Russia separatists are blamed for firing the missile and have controlled the site where the plane crashed in rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The release of four police officers abducted by Filipino communist guerrillas has sparked hopes that stalled peace talks will resume, a government official said Wednesday, although major obstacle remains. New People's Army rebels released the police officers they seized in a July 10 attack on a police station in the remote southern town of Alegria in Surigao del Norte province, saying it was a goodwill gesture to promote peace negotiations and a response to the appeals by the policemen's families.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Four U.S. teens were charged Tuesday with murder in the fatal beating of a Chinese graduate student with a baseball bat and wrench as he walked to his apartment. Two of the suspects, ages 16 and 17, were juveniles charged as adults in the slaying of Xinran Ji, 24, an engineering student at the University of Southern California who was attacked early Thursday. He was able to make his way to his apartment. A roommate discovered him dead hours later.

ATLANTA (AP) — The last surviving member of the crew that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, hastening the end of World War II and forcing the world into the atomic age, has died in the southern state of Georgia. Theodore VanKirk, also known as "Dutch," died Monday of natural causes at the retirement home where he lived in Stone Mountain, Georgia, his son Tom VanKirk said. He was 93.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Strained relations between American allies Japan and South Korea are hurting military cooperation, including on missile defense, despite the common threat they face from North Korea, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific said Tuesday. Adm. Samuel Locklear told reporters that political issues between the two East Asian nations have impeded information-sharing and affected America's ability to conduct "credible military engagement" among them. He said that's an impediment to the security of both Japan and South Korea.

WASHINGTON (AP) — North Korea is upgrading its main rocket launch site and has conducted a series of engine tests as it develops a mobile, intercontinental missile that could increase the threat it poses to the United States, a U.S. research institute said Tuesday. The findings are based on satellite photos of the west coast site of Sohae, analyzed by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

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