World briefs 10/28/02

Monday, October 28, 2002

Mount Etna comes back to life in Europe

CATANIA, Sicily -- Mount Etna, Europe's biggest and most active volcano, came to life again Sunday, spewing lava but causing no injuries. A series of small earthquakes damaged buildings on the slopes of the mountain, officials said.

The stream of lava destroyed some ski lift pylons as it headed toward Piano Provenzana, an area which sits at 7,500 feet and is used by tourists as a starting point for mountain walks.

The area was evacuated and sealed by police, said civil defense officials in Catania.

Etna towers 10,860 feet above Sicily. The last major eruption was in 1992.

U.S. top commander arrives in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia -- The U.S. military's top officer arrived in Saudi Arabia on Sunday, a day after the U.S. Gulf ally urged Iraq to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors and spare the region from another war.

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was greeted at the Riyadh air base by the Saudi chief of staff, Gen. Salih bin Ali Al-Mohayya, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Saudi Arabia was a launching pad for a U.S.-led 1991 Gulf War coalition that drove Iraq from Kuwait.

But now as Washington accuses Iraq of failing to disarm and threatens military action to topple Saddam Hussein, Saudi leaders have said they would allow their territory to be used in an attack only if it had U.N. backing.

Three explosions kill nine rebels in Nepal

KATMANDU, Nepal -- Three small explosions near the royal palace Sunday injured one person while the army killed at least nine rebels in the Himalayan state, police and a ministry spokesman said.

King Gyanendra was in the palace when the series of blasts happened, all within minutes of each other.

No one claimed responsibility for the explosions, but police blamed rebels who have fought since 1996 to end the constitutional monarchy and establish communist rule.

Defense Ministry Spokesman Bhupendra Poudel said the army killed nine rebels near Prasabol, a village nearly 155 miles southwest of the capital, Katmandu.

Eight killed after train collision in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- An express train rammed into a stationary train in eastern Bangladesh early Sunday, killing at least eight people and injuring at least 50 others, railway officials said.

The express was traveling from the southeastern port city of Chittagong to northeastern Sylhet when it smashed into the train stopped at Azampur station in Brammanbaria district, 50 miles east of the capital, Dhaka.

The stationary train was journeying in the opposite direction of the express train on the same route.

Rescuers recovered eight bodies from the wreckage of five train cars that were forced off the tracks, said an official.

Many of the injured were hospitalized, officials said. The government appointed a four-member committee to investigate the incident.

Japanese minister's ruling bloc claims victory

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's ruling bloc declared victory in midterm elections Sunday, with early results showing it won five of the seven parliamentary seats up for grabs.

Thirty candidates were vying for five seats in the powerful 480-seat lower house and two in the 247-seat upper house. Final results were expected early Monday.

The by-election was the latest test of the Liberal Democratic Party-led government's popularity since Koizumi took office in April 2001, though the outcome wouldn't affect the balance of power in Parliament.

By late Sunday, five candidates backed by the Liberal Democratic Party and its two coalition partners were assured victory -- a gain of one seat -- while one seat was secured by an independent and another by the largest opposition Democratic Party, according to Japan's public broadcaster NHK.

-- From wire reports

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