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By Amy Sawitta Lefevre BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand's coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha was appointed prime minister on Thursday by a legislature he hand-picked, giving the army chief a veneer of legitimacy even while the military presses on with efforts to silence its critics. The army seized power on May 22 in a bloodless coup following six months of sometimes deadly street protests that contributed to the ousting of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, whose populist government was opposed by the Bangkok royalist establishment. Although Prayuth's appointment paves the way for an interim government to be set up in the coming weeks, power will remain firmly in the junta's hands. The premier position will give him legal power in the Thai governance system," Gothom Arya, a lecturer in human rights studies at Mahidol University, told Reuters.
Thousands of rescuers combed through the wreckage of homes engulfed by landslides in western Japan on Thursday in the slim hope of finding survivors, a day after a wall of mud claimed at least 39 lives. Police officers, firefighters and soldiers worked through the night in a desperate bid to find seven people still unaccounted for among the sludge and rubble. Dozens of houses were buried when hillsides collapsed after torrential downpours in Hiroshima that saw more than a month's rainfall in just three hours.