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Archive for Sunday, July 10, 2005

Briefly

July 10, 2005

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Afghanistan

Spokesman: Missing commando was killed

A purported Taliban spokesman said Saturday that the group has beheaded a missing American commando, but he offered no proof and the U.S. military said it was still searching for the Navy SEAL.

The commando is the last of a four-member elite commando team missing since June 28 in Kunar, near the Pakistani border. One of the men was rescued and the other two were found dead.

"This morning in Shagal district in Kunar province, the Taliban killed the American soldier and cut his head off," Mullah Latif Hakimi, the purported spokesman, told The Associated Press in a telephone call. "We left the body on a mountainside in this area so Afghan or U.S. soldiers there can find it."

Hakimi repeatedly has said the rebels were holding the commando, but information from him in the past has frequently proven exaggerated or untrue, and his exact tie to the Taliban leadership cannot be independently verified.

U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara said the search for the commando was continuing.

Aruba

Forensic divers search cavern for U.S. teen

Forensic divers probed an underwater cavern Saturday on the northern tip of Aruba for a missing Alabama teenager, but turned up no sign of the young woman.

Later, the team from Florida State University planned to search a lagoon using remote controlled sensors. They planned to check other sites suggested by local authorities over the next two days, said Dale Nute, a forensic scientist who was helping to coordinate the effort.

"If we find something we will call the police and bring it out to them," Nute said.

The search of the cavern and lagoon comes as a Texas-based group that also has searched for Natalee Holloway prepared to abandon its effort within days unless they found some sign of the teenager.

Holloway, 18, vanished in the early hours of May 30, hours before she was to catch a flight home after a five-day vacation celebrating her high school graduation with 124 classmates.

Numerous searches by Dutch marines, Aruban investigators and volunteer rescue groups have failed to turn up any trace of the honors student.

Indonesia

200 feared dead after ferry sinks

As many as 200 people were feared dead days after a ferry capsized in rough seas off eastern Indonesia, a rescue official said today.

The 150-ton KMP Digul sank Thursday night off the coast of Papua province while heading from the port town of Merauke to Tanah Merah, about 124 miles to the north, said Sumpeno Juono of the local Search and Rescue agency.

The ferry was officially reported to be carrying 50 crew and passengers. But survivors said about 200 people were onboard, Sumpeno told The Associated Press. So far, only 15 - two crewmen and 13 passengers - have been found.

Sumpeno said the overloaded ferry did not have any safety equipment and sank quickly in rough waters.

"We believe the number of missing passengers could reach almost 200," said Sumpeno, who had little hope of finding any more survivors.

Other officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

Boat accidents are common in Indonesia, a vast archipelago where safety rules are poorly enforced and rescue vessels are often unavailable.

Mexico

Gas explosion kills two, cripples major pipeline

A series of explosions at a natural gas pipeline killed two people and set fire to houses, cars and cattle in rural southeastern Mexico.

The explosions near Cunduacan, 385 miles southeast of Mexico City, crippled a major natural gas pipeline that supplies the Gulf coast shipping station at Dos Bocas, said Carlos Morales, director of exploration and production for Mexican state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos.

Hundreds of residents from four villages fled Friday night or were evacuated at the sound of a gas leak before a series of explosions in the area. Flames and leaks were brought under control Saturday morning.

The blasts killed a 64-year-old woman, and a 24-year-old man died from his injuries on Saturday.

Dozens of people were transported to hospitals in Comalcalco and Villahermosa, where 13 people were being treated for severe injuries, according to Pemex.

Pemex has suffered a series of spills, leaks and explosions in recent months, exposing the company's neglected, aging infrastructure.

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