World briefs 07/10/03

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Over 500 feared dead after ferry capsizes

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Emergency crews scoured a turbulent river Wednesday in search of more than 500 passengers missing and feared dead after an overcrowded ferry capsized in southern Bangladesh.

Strong currents hampered the search for the triple-deck ferry, which sank Tuesday night with about 750 people on board at the meeting point of the Padma, Meghna and Dakatia rivers. The vessel went down as it approached a ferry terminal in Chandpur town, about 40 miles south of the capital, Dhaka.

As hundreds of anxious relatives and survivors lined the shores or joined the search, fishermen with nets and divers combed the rough waters. A salvage ship with cranes arrived and another was on its way, said Manzoor-e-Elahi, the area's government administrator. Once the ferry is found, they will attempt to lift it from under 200 feet of water.

Many of the passengers were sleeping when the ferry capsized. About 220 people either swam to shore or were rescued by fishermen.

Tens of thousands move from Chinese flood threat

BEIJING -- Authorities evacuated tens of thousands of people Wednesday from around a fast-rising lake on the rain-swollen Huai River in eastern China as the government prepared to divert its waters and spare heavily populated areas by flooding five towns.

Flooding along the Huai has forced more than 600,000 people from their homes, and the river continued to rise amid torrential rains, officials said. At least nine people drowned this week and more than 900,000 were stranded by high water.

"The situation is getting more severe," said Wang Qiang, an official of the flood-response headquarters for the eastern province of Anhui.

Also Wednesday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported that 16 people were killed and 162 injured when a tornado swept through the province's Wuwei County. The tornado struck several towns late Tuesday, destroying 715 houses.

Experts seek cause of Sudanese airliner crash

KHARTOUM, Sudan -- Aviation experts were examining a Sudanese airliner's black box and other evidence Wednesday to determine why the plane crashed shortly after takeoff, killing 116 people.

The Sudan Airways plane, headed from Port Sudan on the northeastern coast to the capital, crashed before dawn Tuesday in a wooded area just after takeoff. The Boeing 737's wreckage was badly burned, and authorities decided to rapidly bury all bodies, including eight foreigners.

"The bodies were buried in a mass grave after performing the Muslim prayer because the conditions of the bodies would not allow transporting and delivering them to the relatives," the Red Sea State governor, Hatem el-Wassila, told the Sudan News Agency.

The sole survivor, 3-year-old Mohammed el-Fateh Osman, lost his right leg and suffered burns, the governor said. The boy has been transferred to a hospital in Khartoum.

Polish prosecutors close probe into massacre

WARSAW, Poland -- Prosecutors examining the 1941 massacre of hundreds of Jews by their Polish neighbors have closed their investigation without charging any new suspects.

Still, Jewish leaders on Wednesday praised the three-year investigation into the massacre in the town of Jedwabne, saying it restored Poles' historical memory into atrocities long blamed on the Nazis.

The investigation was formally closed last week, a week before the 62nd anniversary of the July 10, 1941, killings.

Investigators from the National Remembrance Institute, which investigates Nazi- and communist-era crimes, interviewed 111 witnesses, partially excavated the massacre site and sketched out the topography of wartime Jedwabne to reach their conclusions.

The prosecutors, who will sum up their findings in a 203-page document, determined that at least 340 Jews were killed or burnt alive in a barn by Poles after the Nazis seized territory in northwestern Poland formerly occupied by the Soviets.

-- From wire reports

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