Death toll from tropical storm rises in Japan

Thursday, September 30, 2004

TOKYO -- The death toll from a tropical storm in Japan rose to 12 today, after searchers found several more victims including a 68-year-old man whose home was demolished in a mudslide. Tropical Storm Meari has plowed through a wide swath of Japan since Sunday, causing floods, triggering deadly landslides and forcing about 10,000 people to flee their homes for shelters. Seventeen people were missing and at least 70 others had been injured.

Tentative deal reached in Nigerian dispute

ABUJA, Nigeria -- The leader of militia fighters threatening to widen a battle for control of Nigeria's oil-rich south said Wednesday he agreed to a tentative deal with President Olusegun Obasanjo to end fighting in Africa's leading petroleum exporter that has riled global oil markets. Moujahid Dokubo-Asari, who heads the Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force, said that the president gave "an express understanding that no troops will attack our people. And as along as they don't attack, we won't attack." Dokubo-Asari, who claims direct control of 2,000 ethnic Ijaw fighters and the loyalty of tens of thousands more, threatened Tuesday to widen his campaign to control the nation's southern Niger Delta region and warned his forces would target foreign oil firms and their workers starting Friday.

Palestinian rocket kills two children playing

SDEROT, Israel -- A Palestinian rocket slammed into a street in this southern Israeli town Wednesday, killing two preschool children playing in a yard as Israelis ushered in the fall harvest festival of Sukkot. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon phoned Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal and told him that "Israel will respond" to the attack, a government official said. The rocket attack came in defiance of a major Israeli raid into the nearby Gaza Strip aimed at rooting out militants behind an unending wave of rocket attacks in recent weeks.

Floods destroy harvest, raise famine fear in Haiti

DUBEDOU, Haiti -- The corn crop is flattened, rice paddies are washed away. Even the bitter oranges exported to make liqueur have become casualties of Tropical Storm Jeanne, which killed more than 1,500 people, delivered a hefty blow to Haiti's peasants and is raising fears of famine. Jeanne's torrential rains burst river banks and irrigation canals and spewed boulder-filled mudslides that ravaged an estimated 24,700 acres of the most fertile land in Haiti, according to agronomist Jean-Andre Victor. Productive land is a precious commodity in a country that is 98 percent deforested. "We can't even begin to replant because corpses are still clogging our canals," said Delva Delivra, a 54-year-old peasant who points to an unclaimed corpse in a muddy canal next to a field of crushed corn stalks. "It's the farmers who always suffer."

Wealthy businessman is Hungary's new premier

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Parliament on Wednesday elected one of Hungary's wealthiest businessmen as prime minister, ending two months of political uncertainty. Ferenc Gyurcsany was chosen by a vote of 197-12, succeeding Peter Medgyessy, who was forced out in August midway through his four-year term in a confrontation with the Socialist-led governing coalition. Medgyessy's government had been in turmoil for weeks as Hungary adjusts to being a member of the 25-nation European Union.

Vatican condemns war in Iraq at U.N. speech

UNITED NATIONS -- The Vatican, in its first speech ever to the U.N. General Assembly, called Wednesday for a total ban on human cloning and criticized the war in Iraq and unilateral responses to terrorism. Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, secretary of the Holy See's relations with states, spoke in broad terms and didn't mention the U.S.-led coalition that invaded Iraq or the nations that have acted unilaterally against terrorists. He referred to Pope John Paul II's fervent opposition to the Iraq war.

-- From wire reports

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