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National Radio Midday Report

Taipei Crash – TopCat Closes – Drug Operation – Middle East Situation – Sunk Tanker – Human Rights Merger – Gynecologist – Peacekeepers – Halloween – Fashion And Culture Week – E-Commerce Summit – Auckland Rail – GE Trees

- TAIPEI CRASH: A New Zealand woman has survived a horrific air crash in Taipei this morning. At least 65 people died when the Singapore Airlines flight crashed seconds after takeoff during a typhoon. The death toll could rise as high as 100. 179 people were on board.

- TOPCAT CLOSES: The Christmas and New Year travel plans of thousands of holiday-makers hang in the balance as TopCat discusses transferring bookings to TranzRail. The TopCat fast ferry operation will close on Friday. The company blames new speed restrictions in the Marlborough Sounds, rising fuel costs and the weak New Zealand dollar.

- DRUG OPERATION: The Auckland Organised Crime Squad carried out what it called a major drug operation this morning. They say they have executed 17 search warrants raiding properties across the region. So far they have made three arrests and searches are continuing. Methamphetamine, cocaine and cannabis are the drugs involved.

- MIDDLE EAST SITUATION: Former Israel Prime Minister Shimon Perez may meet Palestinian leader Yasser Asrafat in Gaza tomorrow to try to end the violence in the Middle East. Meanwhile, Mr Arafat paid a hospital visit to a CNN correspondent who was shot while covering clashes.

- SUNK TANKER: Thousands of tonnes of toxic chemicals have begun leaking from a Italian tanker that sunk off the coast of France. The tanker was carrying 4000 tonnes of Styorene, which is used in plastic manufacture and is not soluble in water and is highly toxic and corrosive.

- HUMAN RIGHTS MERGER: The former Human Rights Commissioner, Rae Julian, says there would be advantages in merging the Race Relations Office, the Human Rights Commission and the Commissioner for Children under one roof.

- GYNECOLOGIST: Gynecologist Graham Parry will find out whether he has lost his license to practice today. He was charged with disgraceful conduct over his failure to properly examine and diagnose a Bay of Islands woman who has cervical cancer and is now terminally ill.

- PEACEKEEPERS: The first of the new contingent of army personnel taking over peacekeeping duties in East Timor are flying out of Ohakea airbase today. Nearly one fifth are territorials.

- HALLOWEEN: A Police Youth Aid coordinator says Halloween shouldn’t be celebrated in New Zealand as it fosters criminal activity in children. Smoke bombs were thrown through an elderly woman’s window in one incident last night.

- FASHION AND CULTURE WEEK: The organisers of New Zealand Fashion and Culture Week say unless a sponsor can be found by tonight the event will not go ahead.

- E-COMMERCE SUMMIT: The Minister for Information Technology Paul Swain has told the e-commerce summit in Auckland that electronic trading is the future for small and medium-sized businesses. Mr Swain said e-commerce will be fundamental to New Zealand’s economy.

- AUCKLAND RAIL: TranzRail wants to enlarge its deal to sell control of Auckland’s track network to the local bodies, who want to develop a new rapid transit system.

- GE TREES: The Environmental Risk Management Authority has begun hearing an application to trial Genetically Modified trees today.

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