CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — A New Zealand judge on Friday ordered that the man accused of killing 50 people at two Christchurch mosques undergo two mental health assessments to determine if he's fit to stand trial. High Court judge Cameron Mander made the order during a hearing in which 28-year-old Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant appeared via video link from a small room at the maximum security Paremoremo prison in Auckland. Tarrant was wearing handcuffs and a gray-colored sweater when he appeared on a large screen inside the Christchurch courtroom, which was packed with family members and victims of the shooting, some in wheelchairs and hospital gowns and still recovering from gunshot wounds.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Firefighters by Friday morning had extinguished large parts of a forest fire burning in the mountainous South Korean region that hosted the 2018 Winter Olympics. It has destroyed 120 homes, forced thousands to flee, and killed one person, with another dying because of a falling object in the high winds fanning the flames. The fire likely started Thursday night from a transformer spark near a resort in the town of Goseong and then spread to the nearby mountains, according to Choi Jin-ho, a fire captain at Gangwon Fire Headquarters. Gangwon province governs the Olympic host city of Pyeongchang and is about 210 kilometers (130 miles) northeast of Seoul.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Opinion surveys two weeks ahead of presidential and legislative elections in the world's third-largest democracy show Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his ruling coalition maintaining a large lead over the rival camp. Four nationwide surveys conducted in the second half of March show Widodo between 13 and 20 percentage points ahead of former special forces general Prabowo Subianto. The race has tightened modestly since late last year, but pollsters say Widodo, who has had a commanding lead for months, is headed for victory in the April 17 election. Widodo, the first Indonesian president from outside the Jakarta elite, has campaigned on progress in upgrading inadequate infrastructure and reducing poverty.
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — The lives and futures of more than 19 million Bangladeshi children are at risk from the colossal impact of devastating floods, cyclones and other environmental disasters linked to climate change, according to a report by the United Nations children's agency released Friday. The UNICEF report said the estimate includes hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugee children from Myanmar who are living in squalid camps in Bangladesh's coastal district of Cox's Bazar. The report says that because of the impact of climate, families across Bangladesh, a low-lying delta nation crisscrossed by more than 130 rivers, have migrated to big cities from villages after losing their livelihoods to increasing salinity in arable land, flooding, or river bank erosion.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's prime minister said on Friday his government was working with international aid workers to repatriate three orphaned Australian children of a convicted terrorist from a Syrian refugee camp. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia would only help the children of extremists — not adults — return from the war zones of Syria and Iraq. "Where there are Australians who are caught up in this situation, particularly as innocent children, then we will do what I think Australians would expect us to do on their behalf," Morrison told reporters. The government has previously refused to help Australians who have joined Islamic State fighters in the Middle East then changed their minds.
TOKYO (AP) — Japan's space agency says its Hayabusa2 spacecraft has released an explosive onto an asteroid to make a crater on its surface and collect underground samples to find possible clues to the origin of the solar system. Friday's mission is the riskiest for Hayabusa2, as it has to immediately get away so it won't get hit by flying shards from the blast. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, says it has confirmed Hayabusa2 dropped a "small carry-on impactor" made of copper onto the asteroid Friday morning. JAXA says it has confirmed Hayabusa2 safely evacuated and remained intact after the blast.
Dancers in traditional Korean "Hanbok" attire perform at the Royal Culture Festival at the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul. In other images from the Asia-Pacific region this week, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga unveils the name of the new emperor's era called "Reiwa," or "Beautiful Harmony," which will come into force May 1 when Crown Prince Naruhito succeeds his father. A massive wildfire burns in Goseong, South Korea, fanned by strong winds in a mountainous province that hosted the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. People in Tokyo enjoy blooming cherry blossoms along the Chidorigafuchi Imperial Palace moat. ___ This gallery was curated by Associated Press photo editor Toru Takahashi in Tokyo.
BEIJING (AP) — Authorities are shutting down an eastern China industrial park after 78 people were killed last month by a chemical explosion, the city government said Friday. Local departments have met to discuss how to eliminate chemical plants with low safety standards and severe pollution issues, Yancheng city said in an online statement, noting that the site of last month's deadly blast — Xiangshui Chemical Industrial Park — will be completely shut down. In 2017, an explosion that killed 10 at a nearby plant prompted the State Administration of Work Safety to dispatch inspectors. They discovered over 200 safety hazards at Yancheng chemical factories, including 13 at the Tianjiayi plant where the most recent explosion occurred.
BOSTON (AP) — Some of the nation's top research universities are cutting ties with Chinese tech giant Huawei as the company faces allegations of bank fraud and trade theft. Colleges including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University and the University of California, Berkeley, have said they will accept no new funding from the company, citing the recent federal charges against Huawei along with broader cybersecurity concerns previously raised by the U.S. government. The schools are among at least nine that have received funding from Huawei over the past six years, amounting a combined $10.5 million, according to data gathered by the U.S.
PANAMA CITY (AP) — China's expansion in Latin America of its Belt and Road initiative to build ports and other trade-related facilities is stirring alarm in Washington over Beijing's ambitions in a region that American leaders since the 19th century have seen as off-limits to other powers. China is hardly a newcomer to the region, but now it's focusing on countries in Central America such as Panama. It's a country of just 4 million people but its canal linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans makes it one of the world's busiest trade arteries and strategically important both to Washington and Beijing.