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Archive for Monday, July 25, 2005

Briefly

July 25, 2005

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New Delhi

Earthquake off coast triggers tsunami warning

A powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit India's southern Nicobar Islands on Sunday, triggering panic in the islands and prompting Thailand to issue a tsunami warning for the region devastated by December's earthquake and tsunami.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damages. The islands are in the Indian Ocean between India and Thailand, where some 5,400 people died in the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean tsunami. By late Sunday, no tsunami was seen and Thailand withdrew its warning.

The Indian Ocean basin was battered by the December earthquake and tsunami which followed, killing at least 178,953 people in 11 countries and leaving 49,616 people missing, most of them presumed dead.

Sunday's quake also was felt in Indonesia's Aceh province, the area hit hardest in the December tragedy.

Aceh residents, jolted from their sleep, said the quake rattled their homes for about 10 seconds. Some went outside to look for damage, returning minutes later when none was found.

Philippines

Impeachment complaint filed against Arroyo

Philippine opposition lawmakers filed an impeachment complaint today against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, accusing her of vote-rigging and other allegations.

The filing against Arroyo, a staunch U.S. ally, claims she "stole, cheated and lied" to obtain and hold power. Her aides have moved to block the complaint on a legal technicality after Congress convenes following Arroyo's scheduled State of the Nation speech later today.

A summary of the complaint, seen by The Associated Press, accuses Arroyo of 10 major crimes including election fraud and corruption. It claims she can be impeached on at least four grounds.

Arroyo has denied manipulating the May 2004 ballot by discussing vote counting with an election official before she was declared the winner. She has said she is ready to face an impeachment trial to clear her name and has announced a "truth commission" also will probe the allegations against her.

Beijing

U.S., N. Korean envoys to meet before talks

The U.S. envoy to six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program said today he would hold a rare one-on-one meeting with his North Korean counterpart before the talks.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said he would meet North Korea's envoy this afternoon before the full round of talks opens Tuesday after a gap of more than a year.

"We are just trying to get acquainted, review how we see things coming up and compare notes," Hill told reporters. Referring to Tuesday's talks, he said, "We are looking forward to working hard and trying to make some progress."

He did not say what progress Washington hopes to make.

The talks also include host China, South Korea, Russia and Japan.

Hill said Sunday that he did not expect the meetings this week to be the last negotiations over demands for the North to give up its nuclear program. He said the process is "going to take a lot of work."

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