Briefly

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Huge crater opens at Brazilian subway site

SAO PAULO, Brazil -- A hole being excavated for a new subway station collapsed, opening a huge crater that swallowed cars and dump trucks. Firefighters aided by dogs searched the site Saturday looking for a missing minibus that was feared under the dirt. A bus cooperative reported a minibus carrying as many as eight people was missing and may have tumbled into the crater Friday when part of a street adjacent to the site slid in, said Etrusco Juarez of the Security Department in Sao Paulo, South America's largest city. He said authorities had not confirmed the van fell into the hole, which was about 200 feet across, but were searching, Juarez said. Local media said the minibus was carrying a driver, a fare collector and four to six passengers.

Japan quake sparks tsunami warning

TOKYO -- Thousands of people in residence along Japan's eastern coast fled to higher ground after a magnitude-8.2 earthquake triggered tsunami warnings Saturday in parts of the Pacific region, including Hawaii and Alaska. The warnings were lifted nine hours after the quake. The quake struck 19 miles below the seabed about 310 miles east of Etorofu, the largest of a disputed four-island chain known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Kuril islands in Russia, said Japan's Meteorological Agency. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage from the quake, but the agency warned that higher than usual waves could hit the northeastern coast of Japan's main island of Hokkaido.

Progress made in Hamas, Abbas envoy talks

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Significant progress has been made in secret coalition talks between the top Hamas leader and envoys of moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, officials from both sides said Saturday, signaling a sudden shift after several weeks of deadly internal fighting. In another unexpected show of unity, the civil servants' union dominated by Abbas' Fatah movement announced Saturday that it was ending a strike it had launched four months ago to protest non-payment of salaries by the Hamas-led government. And in Gaza, Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called on his Hamas movement and on Fatah to halt their increasingly violent power struggle that has claimed 35 lives in recent weeks.

Canada to spend $368 million on border security

WINDSOR, Ontario -- Canada plans to spend more than $368 million over the next five years to protect its border from terrorist, economic and environmental threats. Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day announced the initiative Friday at the border crossing between Windsor and Detroit, the conduit for one-third of the $1.6 billion in daily trade that passes between Canada and the United States. Experts have long said Canada should tighten security along its side of the 4,000-mile border, especially since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Polish bishop denies hiding his past from pope

WARSAW, Poland -- The Roman Catholic prelate who resigned two days after becoming Warsaw's archbishop denied Saturday that he had concealed his cooperation with the communist-era secret police from Pope Benedict XVI. Nearly a week after Bishop Stanislaw Wielgus stunned Poles by resigning his new post minutes before his formal installation, he issued a statement reiterating the oath he made to the papal envoy in Warsaw in December. He also released a copy of the oath. In the oath, as quoted by the PAP news agency, Wielgus said "I swear to God" that during meetings and talks with the secret security and intelligence forces in the 1970s, "I never spoke against the church, nor did I do or say anything bad against any clergy or lay people." Wielgus' statement Saturday was a response to the papal nuncio, Archbishop Jozef Kowalczyk, who accused the bishop of withholding the truth about his collaboration from the Vatican.

-- From wire reports

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