Top Asian News at 4:30 p.m. GMT

Associated Press

MOKPO, South Korea (AP) — A ferry carrying 462 people, mostly high school students on an overnight trip to a tourist island, sank off South Korea's southern coast on Wednesday, leaving more than 280 people missing despite a frantic, hours-long rescue by dozens of ships and helicopters. At least four people were confirmed dead and 55 injured. The high number of people unaccounted for — likely trapped in the ship or floating in the ocean — raised fears that the death toll could rise drastically, making it one of South Korea's biggest ferry disasters since 1993, when 292 people died.

PERTH, Australia (AP) — As a robotic submarine dived into the ocean to look for lost Flight 370, angry Chinese relatives stormed out of a teleconference meeting Wednesday to protest the Malaysian government for not addressing them in person. The Bluefin 21 sub surfaced early for the second time in as many missions, this time after experiencing technical difficulties. It was sent back into the water after its data were downloaded but there's been no sign of the plane, according to the search coordinator.

BEIJING (AP) — Since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing, some lawyers have claimed they can get several millions of dollars in damages for each lost passenger by taking the cases to the United States. But past lawsuits show U.S. federal courts are more likely to throw such cases out if the crashes happened overseas. Major disasters draw lawyers looking to sign up clients for big lawsuits, and the missing Malaysian plane, which was carrying mostly Chinese passengers, has been no exception. Lawyers from various firms have descended on a Beijing hotel where relatives of the passengers have been staying, and have even traveled around China to visit them in their homes.

BEIJING (AP) — China's economic growth slowed further in the latest quarter but appeared strong enough to satisfy Chinese leaders who are trying to put the country on a more sustainable path without politically dangerous job losses. The world's second-largest economy grew 7.4 percent from a year earlier in the January-March quarter, down from the previous quarter's 7.7 percent, government data showed Wednesday. It matched a mini-slump in late 2012 for the weakest growth since the 2008-09 global crisis.

GAUHATI, India (AP) — A passenger train derailed in northeastern India early Wednesday, and dozens of passengers suffered mostly minor injuries. The engine and nine of the train's 13 coaches jumped the track near the Jagiroad station, about 140 kilometers (85 miles) east of Gauhati, the capital of Assam, state-owned Indian Railways said in a statement.

LONDON (AP) — North Korea has made a diplomatic appeal to the British government to get a London salon out of its hair. The country's diplomats have complained to the Foreign Office about a hairdressing salon that put up a poster poking fun at distinctively coiffed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A Malaysian man who went on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia has become the first death in Asia from Middle East respiratory syndrome, while the Philippines has isolated a health worker who tested positive for the deadly coronavirus. Malaysia's health ministry said the Muslim man returned to Malaysia on March 29 and developed a high fever and cough and had difficulty breathing more than a week later. The man, a 54-year-old from southern Johor state neighboring Singapore, died Sunday in a hospital, it said Wednesday.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Despite having little history of domestic terrorism, New Zealand and Australia were drawn into the global debate on drone strikes Wednesday after confirming that a citizen from each country was killed in Yemen last year. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said the men were killed during a November counter-terror drone strike along with three known al-Qaida operatives. He said the New Zealander had been watched by intelligence agencies and had first attended some kind of terrorist training camp.

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Pakistani Taliban says it will not renew a ceasefire it called to facilitate peace negotiations with the government but says talks will continue. In a statement emailed Wednesday to reporters, the organization's spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said the governing council of the militant group had decided unanimously to drop the ceasefire.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The leader of Australia's most populous state quit as premier on Wednesday in the face of mounting evidence that he failed to declare a 3,000 Australian dollar ($2,800) bottle of wine that arrived as a gift on his Sydney doorstep. New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell had told a corruption inquiry on Tuesday that he never received a bottle of 1959 Penfolds Grange Hermitage as a gift from businessman Nick Di Girolamo congratulating him weeks after his 2011 election win.

NEW DELHI (AP) — Six people were burned to death and another 12 seriously injured early Wednesday when a bus caught fire in southern India, police said. The injured in the accident were hospitalized in Karanataka state, police official Srinivas Murthy said.

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — At least five people including a 2-year-old boy were killed and 15 others were injured Wednesday when a passenger bus rammed a stalled truck along the highway in eastern Philippines' Camarines Sur province at the start of the Easter week exodus of vacationers to provinces, police said. Police Supt. Vicente Marfori said the driver of the bus from Manila is under investigation at the police station of Libmanan town, where the accident happened.

SYDNEY (AP) — Britain's Prince William, his wife, Kate, and their baby son, George, arrived in sunny Sydney on Wednesday to the cheers of thousands of fans as they kicked off their tour of Australia. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge landed in Sydney after wrapping up a 10-day trip around New Zealand. They were greeted by various dignitaries, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, before being whisked off to the city's famed Opera House.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan policeman has opened fire and wounded a female lawmaker in the country's capital, Kabul, during what authorities described as a "dispute" between the two. Lawmaker Maryam Koofi was recovering Wednesday after the shooting the previous night.

BEIJING (AP) — His head covered in a black hood, lawyer Tang Jitian recalls being taken into a room and hearing the sound of a rope being pulled. The handcuffs behind him were jerked upward and soon he was dangling in the air. "I got hoisted with my head facing down, feet off the ground and butt in the air," Tang said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Five or six people were hitting me and kicking me. All I heard was 'thud, thud, thud,' throughout."

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