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More int'l news in brief

Published:Wednesday | August 27, 2014 | 8:00 AM


Egypt road crash kills 18 in ancient city of Luxor

LUXOR, Egypt (AP):

Two microbuses racing down a narrow rural road in Egypt's ancient city of Luxor collided and plunged into a canal early yesterday, killing 18 passengers, including eight children and four women, local officials said.

The two vehicles were carrying passengers returning from a late-night wedding in a village on the west bank of Luxor and were racing each other when they collided before dawn, security chief Major General Muntasser Abu-Zeid told reporters.

Egypt's state MENA news agency initially said 19 people were killed. But following the end of the rescue mission, a health ministry official in Luxor, Nahed Mohammed, said only 18 died in the accident, including eight children aged between 18 months and eight years.

MENA said darkness had hampered rescue efforts. Local officials said the strong current also complicated the search. The body of a five-year-old child was found five kilometres (three miles) away from the scene of the crash, said local politician Shabaan Haridi, who was at the site yesterday.

Traffic accidents are common in Egypt due to badly maintained roads and disregard of traffic laws. Road accidents killed about 13,000 people in Egypt last year.

Twenty-four more bodies recovered in Italy's refugee rescue

ROME, Italy (AP):

The Italian navy has recovered another 24 bodies from an overturned fishing boat during rescue operations for the thousands of would-be refugees who are fleeing Libyan shores for Europe.

The navy said yesterday that two of its patrol boats recovered the corpses from the capsized smuggler's boat Sunday night. Their remains, as well as 364 survivors, were headed towards Augusta on Sicily's east coast.

At a meeting scheduled for today with the EU's home affairs commissioner, Italy's interior minister is expected to demand that the European Union do more to help Italy rescue the migrants.

More than 100,000 people have arrived in Italy so far this year thanks to increasing instability in Libya, where human smugglers operate. Some 42,000 arrived in all of 2013.

Cristobal becomes hurricane, moves from Bahamas

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP):

Cristobal moved away from The Bahamas after strengthening into a hurricane, leaving a swathe of soaked Caribbean islands and at least five fatalities in its wake.

The US National Hurricane Center in Miami said that yesterday the hurricane was centred about 610 miles (980 kilometres) southwest of Bermuda. It had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and was moving north at 12 mph (19 kph).

The storm was projected to gradually take an even more north-eastward track, and pass to the west and north of Bermuda today. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 45 miles (75 kilometres) from the centre, and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 205 miles (335 kilometres).

Before strengthening into a hurricane, Cristobal flooded several communities across the Caribbean and halted flights in the drenched Turks and Caicos Islands. Government offices and banks were shuttered Monday on the low-lying islands that are highly vulnerable to flooding from heavy rains and storm surge, and authorities said many homes were flooded.

Hurricane Marie weakens in Mexican Pacific

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP):

Hurricane Marie weakened to a category two storm early yesterday but continued kicking up high swells along Mexico's northern Pacific coast and threatened to raise dangerous waves along the Southern California coast.

The US Hurricane Center in Miami said Marie's maximum sustained winds decreased to 105 mph (165 kph). Additional weakening was forecast and the storm was expected to lose hurricane status by today or so.

Marie was centred about 550 miles (880 kilometres) west-southwest of the southern tip of Baja California and was moving northwest near 14 mph (22 kph).

Swells provoked by the storm were affecting much of Mexico's Pacific coast and the Hurricane Center was warning of dangerous surf and rip current conditions.

Hurricane-force winds extended up to 60 miles (95 kilometres) away from the storm's centre, with tropical storm-force winds reaching out to 275 miles (445 kilometres).

The southern Pacific coast state of Oaxaca requested federal disaster relief after about 10,000 homes were either damaged, flooded or cut off by mudslides on the state's mountainous rural roads due to rains associated with Marie last week.