Hot off the press

These are the top stories making the front pages of major newspapers from across Southeast Asia today. 

Get up to speed with what’s happening in the fastest growing region in the world.  

Desperate residents ignore dangers of Philippine volcano and return home

Philippine officials have appealed for desperate residents who were evacuated from towns endangered by the erupting Taal Volcano not to return to their homes because of the risk.

Thousands of villagers were evacuated within hours on Monday (13 Jan) after the volcano's sudden escalation of activity on Sunday, with the state's Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology warning of an imminent "hazardous eruption" that could cause a "violent tsunami" in the lake waters surrounding the volcanic island. The institute raised the alert level to 4 on a scale of 5 on Sunday.

The initial explosion on Sunday sent a plume of ash about 800m into the air in a spectacular sight that caught many by surprise in the communities around the volcano, which is about 60km south of Manila. Ash from the volcano blew into the capital city Monday. – The Straits Times

Power, water firms move to secure supplies amid Taal unrest

Ashfall from Taal knocked down power distribution circuits throughout Tagaytay City and parts of Batangas, Cavite and Laguna, where volcanic fragments also caused the outage of five major transmission facilities. Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said in a statement that electricity in some portions of Sta. Rosa, Cabuyao and Calamba in Laguna province have already been restored as of Monday morning and that the company was working to restore power in other affected areas as soon as possible.

These areas include portions of Bacoor, Silang, Amadeo, Indang, Naic, Trece Martirez City, Alfonso, Cavite City, Dasmariñas City in Cavite and portions of Talisay in Batangas. – Philippine Daily Inquirer

Opposition leader says ‘internationalising’ Rakhine crisis wrong

A senior leader of the opposition United Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) said the move of the current government to internationalise the Rakhine crisis only complicates the problem.

U Khin Yi, a central executive committee member of the military-backed USDP, said that for the longest time the government approached the Rakhine problem as a security and migrant issue but it took the human rights dimension when the present government   set up the Kofi |Annan commission. – Myanmar Times

Shoddy construction blamed for Kep building collapse

A government working group investigating the deadly building collapse in Kep province yesterday blamed shoddy construction, including the use of poor quality pillars, for the incident.

Tep Thon, a secretary of state at the Land Management Ministry and head of the working group, yesterday said poor quality cement was used to coat iron bars which supported the seven-storey building. – Khmer Times

Shock as Selangor Bersatu Youth chief arrested for drug offence

Selangor Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Youth chief Adhif Syan Abdullah was arrested for an alleged drug offence on Sunday.

The matter was confirmed by Bersatu vice-president and Selangor Bersatu chairman Datuk Abdul Rashid Asari today. – The New Straits Times