Top Asian News at 6:30 a.m. GMT

Associated Press

MALIN, India (AP) — Rescue workers and desperate villagers dug through deep mud, rocks and the debris of shattered homes Thursday after a massive landslide buried a remote village in western India, killing at least 25 people and trapping more than 150, authorities said. Two days of torrential rains triggered the landslide early Wednesday, but national rescue personnel could not reach the stricken area in Pune district of Maharashtra state for several hours because of bad communications, dangerous roads and debris.

BEIJING (AP) — Foreign reporters are being allowed to attend China's Defense Ministry briefings for the first time, marking a small milestone in the increasingly confident Chinese military's efforts to project a more transparent image. Restrictions still apply and there is no sign of an improvement in the generally paltry amount and poor quality of information released by the People's Liberation Army, the world's largest standing military with 2.3 million members.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee endorsed on Wednesday a resolution calling on China to immediately end what it calls state-sanctioned harvesting of human organs from prisoners. China said the panel was making "false and irresponsible accusations." Human rights groups have long criticized China for taking organs from executed prisoners, the source of most transplanted organs. China said in 2012 it plans to abolish the practice in three to five years.

BEIJING (AP) — An outspoken Chinese minority scholar was indicted on separatism charges 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 Wednesday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) — Racing against time, members of a Japanese organization are combing a New York military museum's World War II records for information they hope will lead to the graves of American servicemen still listed as missing in action on Saipan. The reason for the urgency: A developer plans to begin construction in the fall on a condominium near the beach where scores of Americans were killed on July 7, 1944, during Japan's largest mass suicide attack of the war.

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's prime minister and foreign minister on Thursday sent mixed messages on whether Russia was frustrating Dutch and Australian police efforts to retrieve the bodies of victims of the Malaysian airliner disaster in war-torn east Ukraine. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she feared Russia was behind the daily artillery barrages blocking police, while Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it was too early to judge. Abbott has declined to follow the U.S. and European examples by ratcheting up sanctions against Russia in a bid to pressure President Vladimir Putin into ending his country's support for the separatists.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics Co. reported a bigger-than-expected fall in second quarter profit on Thursday and said it was uncertain if earnings from its handset business would improve in the current quarter. Samsung warned earlier this month that the second quarter would be its worst in two years as rapid growth in smartphone sales had faded. The company particularly struggled to compete in cheap smartphones, currently the fastest growing part of the global smartphone business. Samsung shares dived 4 percent in Seoul.

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.

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.

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