ASIA:

SKOREA-SHIP SINKING-STUDENTS' HOMETOWN

ANSAN, South Korea — The altar of the memorial is a wall of white and yellow flowers and greens, surrounding photos of 47 students and teachers whose bodies have been identified after being recovered from the ferry Sewol. There is room for many, many more pictures. The temporary memorial opened Wednesday in Ansan, the city south of Seoul that has taken the brunt of the pain from the ferry sinking last week that left more than 300 people dead or missing. By Youkyung Lee. Sent: 700 words, photos, video.

SKOREA-SHIP-CAPTAIN PROFILE

MOKPO, South Korea — A colleague calls Capt. Lee Joon-seok the nicest person on the ship. With more than 40 years' experience at sea, Lee could speak eloquently about the romance and danger of a life spent on ships. But his reputation hinges on the moments when he delayed an evacuation and apparently abandoned the ferry Sewol as it sank. By Youkyung Lee and Foster Klug. Sent 1,000 words, photos, video.

— SKOREA-SHIP SINKING — Recovering bodies from the submerged ferry proceeded rapidly, with the official death toll reaching 150, though divers must now rip through cabin walls to retrieve more victims. SENT: 830 words, photos, video.

— SKOREA-SHIP SINKING-THIRD MATE — A maritime professor who spoke with the third mate who was steering the South Korean ferry before it sank said that he suspects there was a problem with the steering gear. Sent: 500 words, photos.

OBAMA

TOKYO — President Barack Obama opened a four-country Asia tour aimed at reassuring allies in the region that the U.S. remains a committed economic, military and political partner that can serve as a counterweight to China's growing influence. The president started the trip informally, joining Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a famous sushi restaurant. By Darlene Superville. Sent: 900 words, photos, video.

— PHILIPPINES-ANTI-OBAMA PROTEST. Anti-Obama protesters clash with police in front of US Embassy in Manila. SENT: 240 words.

— JAPAN-OBAMA. Obama says US-Japan security treaty applies to islands claimed by China. SENT: 230 words.

NEPAL-EVEREST RISK

NEW DELHI — Climbing to the roof of the world is becoming less predictable and possibly more dangerous, scientists say, as climate change brings warmer temperatures that may eat through the ice and snow on Mount Everest. While it is impossible to link any single event to long-term changes in the global climate, scientists say the future will likely hold more dangers like last week's avalanche. By Katy Daigle. Sent: 1,000 words, photos.

— NEPAL-EVEREST AVALANCHE — Sherpa guides packed up their tents and left Mount Everest's base camp in an unprecedented walkout to honor their dead colleagues and protest for better government response. SENT: 800 words, photos.

— NEPAL-EVEREST'S ICEFALL — Everybody knows the Khumbu Icefall on Everest is dangerous. Glaciers on the icefall or a nearby mountain ridge can break, setting off avalanches, exactly what happened last week. SENT: 890 words, photos.

AFGHAN-ELECTIONS

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan's election commission delayed a planned release of full results from the April 5 presidential election to allow for recounts and audits, officials said, a development that adds to the confusion surrounding the balloting to replace President Hamid Karzai. By Kay Johnson. Sent: 400 words, photos.

— AFGHANISTAN — Five police officers were killed by Taliban insurgents who raided a checkpoint in Kandahar province, a police spokesman says. Sent: 130 words.

HONG KONG-PHILIPPINES

HONG KONG — Hong Kong and the Philippines reached a compromise over Hong Kong's demands for an apology for the families of eight tourists killed in a bungled response to a 2010 Manila hostage-taking that soured relations. By Kelvin Chan. Sent: 390 words, photos.

THAILAND-ACTIVIST KILLED

BANGKOK — A pro-government activist who opposed a law punishing critics of Thailand's monarchy was killed in the capital, police said. The killing came as tensions continue over the political fate of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose foes are trying to force her from office to make way for an appointed government to implement reforms. Sent: 340 words.

CHINA-GROUNDWATER

BEIJING — Nearly 60 percent of the groundwater at sites monitored throughout China is of poor or extremely poor quality, with excessive amounts of pollutants, according to an annual report by the Ministry of Land and Resources. Sent: 280 words.

MYANMAR-BECOMING MONKS-PHOTO ESSAY

YANGON, Myanmar — With golden umbrellas covering them from the equatorial sun, boys in princely attire are hoisted onto the shoulders of their fathers and uncles, part of a ritual carried out this time every year at Buddhist pagodas all over Myanmar: young would-be-novices preparing to enter the monkhood. Sent: 240 words.

MALAYSIA-PLANE

CANBERRA, Australia — Unidentified material that washed ashore in southwestern Australia and is being examined for any link to the lost Malaysian plane is unlikely to have come from the jet, an official said. By Rod McGuirk. SENT: 800 words, photos, audio, video.

UNITED STATES-NKOREA-NUCLEAR TEST SITE

WASHINGTON — Commercial satellite imagery shows increased activity at North Korea's nuclear test site but not enough to indicate an underground atomic explosion is imminent, a U.S. research institute says. North Korea last month threatened to conduct its fourth nuclear test and there's been speculation it may do so as President Barack Obama travels to Asia this week. By Matthew Pennington. SENT: 600 words. AP Photo.

MALAYSIA-PIRACY

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Pirates raided a Japanese tanker in the Malacca Strait and pilfered several million liters of diesel fuel it was carrying. A marine police officer said the tanker was sailing from Singapore to Myanmar when it was boarded by pirates armed with pistols and machetes early Tuesday. He said most of the crew members were tied up and locked in a room. SENT: 250 words.

AUSTRALIA-F-35 FIGHTERS

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia announces that it had increased its order for F-35 Joint Strike Fighters by 58 to 72 to be fully operational by 2023 in a declaration of confidence in the troubled stealth war plane. SENT: 200 words.

BUSINESS:

CHINA-AUTO SHOW-LUXURY BATTLE

BEIJING — At age 32, Jason Jia already is the kind of customer luxury automakers are seeking as competition grows in China's lucrative but crowded market. The energy industry consultant has traded up from a Volkswagen Polo to a VW GTI. Now, as he stood looking at a Cadillac CTS at the Beijing auto show, he said he wants a Mercedes Benz or a BMW. By Didi Tang. Sent: 1,100 words, photos.

JAPAN-TOYOTA

TOKYO — Toyota kept its position at the top in global vehicle sales for the first quarter of this year, outpacing rivals General Motors and Volkswagen. Toyota Motor Corp. said it sold a record 2.583 million vehicles in the January-March period, putting the Japanese automaker ahead of Detroit-based GM at 2.42 million and Volkswagen of Germany at 2.4 million. SENT: 470 words.

CHINA-MANUFACTURING

HONG KONG — Factory activity in China shrank for the fourth straight month in April, though the decline was slightly slower, a survey on Wednesday said, in a possible sign the slowdown in the world's No. 2 economy is stabilizing. The preliminary version of HSBC's purchasing managers' index edged up 48.3 from March's 48.0 on a 100-point scale on which numbers above 50 indicate expansion. SENT: 300 words.

CHINA-EARNS-CHINA MOBILE

BEIJING — China Mobile Ltd., the world's biggest phone carrier by number of subscribers, said its quarterly profit declined 9.4 percent from a year earlier despite a rise in customer numbers as spending per account declined. SENT: 250 words.

U.S. & INTERNATIONAL:

UKRAINE

DONETSK, Ukraine — Pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine admitted they are holding an American journalist. Simon Ostrovsky, a journalist for Vice News, has been covering the crisis in Ukraine for weeks and was reporting about groups of masked gunmen seizing government buildings in one eastern Ukrainian city after another. By Yuras Karmanau. SEND: 370 words, photo. UPCOMING: 500 words by 10 a.m.

— AP PHOTO: xel101 — An April 13 photo shows Vice News reporter Simon Ostrovsky standing next to a pro-Russian militant in Ukraine's eastern city of Slovyansk.

EGYPT

CAIRO — An explosive device placed under his car kills a senior Egyptian police officer in a western Cairo suburb while another officer dies in a shootout with militants during a raid in Alexandria. The deaths come amid stepped-up attacks against Egyptian police and military as militant groups wage an increasingly violent campaign following the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. By Sarah El Deeb. SENT: 400 words. UPCOMING: 600 words by 9:00 a.m.

VATICAN-THE OTHER POPE

VATICAN CITY — On the night of Oct. 11, 1962, Pope John XXIII did something so natural that it's astonishing it was so revolutionary at the time. He came to the window of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace and spoke to thousands of candle-bearing faithful below — not in the arcane, scripted words of pontiffs past but in those of a father and pastor looking out for his flock. While much of the focus of Sunday's dual canonization will be on Pope John Paul II's globe-trotting, 26-year papacy and his near-record sprint to sainthood, many older Catholics will be celebrating the short but historic pontificate of the "Good Pope," John XXIII. By Nicole Winfield. SENT: 950, photos.

SYRIA-HIKING TO SAFETY-PHOTO ESSAY

MOUNT HERMON, Lebanon — As the late-day sun slipped behind the mountains in front of them, a ragtag group of around a dozen Syrians desperate to flee their country's bloody civil war set off on their treacherous nighttime trek across the rugged frontier into neighboring Lebanon. Ahead of them: a 9-hour climb in darkness up — and down — the 2,814-meter (9,232-foot) Mount Hermon. Once in Lebanon, they will join the more than 2.5 million other Syrians across the region who have escaped the civil war in their homeland to begin the life of a refugee. By Hussein Malla. SENT: 450 words, photos.

ENTERTANMENT:

JAPAN-JUSTIN BIEBER-WAR SHRINE

TOKYO — Justin Bieber apologizes to those he offended by visiting Japan's Yasukuni war shrine this week, saying he went because it was a beautiful place and thought it was only a place of prayer. By Mari Yamaguchi. Sent: 300 words, photos.

FILM-SUMMER PREVIEW

NEW YORK — Like jumbo jets on the runway, Hollywood's summer movies are lined up, ready for takeoff. They're hoping for only minor turbulence. But if the movie business had a "fasten your seat belt" light, it was certainly flashing last summer, when numerous high-profile releases flopped. But summer — that annual rite of superheroes, sequels and spectacle — is when Hollywood bets big. That's no different this year, with the upcoming releases of big-budget films like "Godzilla," ''Maleficient," ''Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Transformers: Age of Extinction." By Film Writer Jake Coyle. SENT: 1,110 words, photos.

BOLLYWOOD OSCARS-WHY TAMPA

TAMPA — Macau, Singapore, London.Tampa? The International Indian Film Academy is holding its annual awards ceremony in Tampa. It's the first time the IIFA has held its awards in the United States. IIFA organizers say Tampa was chosen because city and tourism leaders were aggressive in courting the multi-day event. There was also another reason: the Indian film industry wants to expand its reach into the U.S. By Tamara Lush. UPCOMING: 760 words, photos.

With: BOLLYWOOD OSCARS-GETTING READY — International Indian Film Academy Awards, known as the Bollywood Oscars, comes to Florida. Sent: 470 words, photos.

Also:

— TV-EVEREST JUMP — After canceling daredevil's jump, Discovery network plans to make documentary on deadly Everest avalanche. Sent: 640 words, photos.

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YOUR QUERIES: The editor in charge at the AP Asia-Pacific Desk in Bangkok is David Thurber. Questions and story requests are welcome. The news desk can be reached at (66) 2632-6911 or by email at asia@ap.org.

The Asia Photo Desk can be reached at (81-3) 6215-8941 or by fax at (81-3) 3574-8850.

Between 1600 GMT and 0000 GMT, please refer queries to the North America Desk in New York at (1) 212-621-1650.