World Digest: Dec. 24, 2013

December 24, 2013
EUROPE
Storm causes deaths, ties up holiday travel

A severe winter storm caused major travel problems in parts of Western Europe on Tuesday, stranding passengers traveling for Christmas at Paris and London airports and leaving hundreds of thousands of homes without power.

The storm caused four deaths in Britain, including that of a man who jumped into a fast-flowing river to rescue his dog. In Normandy, France, a 12-year-old boy was crushed to death by construction materials blown over by high winds.

In Britain, thousands of people trying to get away for the holidays were affected by reduced or canceled train service because of landslides, fallen trees and flooding. Power outages at London Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal caused 26 cancellations and many more delays. The airport said the problems were caused by flooding from a nearby river triggered by heavy rains.

The Energy Networks Association, which represents power companies across Britain, said 150,000 homes were without power, mainly in the south.Power supplier Southern Electric said some may not get electricity back in time for Christmas Day.

The Environment Agency issued hundreds of flood warnings across England and Wales, with a severe flood warning — the highest level, signifying danger to life — in southwest England. Two people died in car accidents, and a woman’s body was pulled from a river in north Wales.

Across the English Channel, nearly all long-haul flights out of Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport were delayed because of the storm, according to the Paris airport authority’s Web site. An electricity provider said winds left nearly 200,000 homes in western France without power.

In Spain, extremely strong winds battered the northwestern Galicia region, and a tree that fell down on rail tracks prompted the derailment of a commuter train. None of the 10 passengers or the crew members were injured. As many as 88,000 homes lost power, and crews were trying to restore it.

— Associated Press

SYRIA
Government air raids kill at least 15 people

A new round of air raids on rebel-held areas of the northern city of Aleppo killed at least 15 people Tuesday, including three children, activists said.

The strikes extended the furious assault by President Bashar al-Assad’s planes and helicopters on the embattled city into its 10th day. Activists say more than 360 people were killed in the first nine days of the campaign.

Tuesday’s airstrikes hit the Sukkari neighborhood, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The group said at least 15 were killed.

Another activist group, the Aleppo Media Center, said at least 33 people were killed and 150 wounded. Disparate death tolls are common in the chaotic aftermath of such attacks. The Aleppo Media Center said the strikes were carried out by jets and helicopters and hit at least three sites, causing extensive damage, toppling apartment buildings and setting houses and cars ablaze.

— Associated Press

PAKISTAN
Bomb scare delays Musharraf hearing

A bomb scare delayed the first hearing in a high treason case against former Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday, police and legal officials said.

The case is the most serious legal problem Musharraf has faced since returning to the country in March. He hoped to take part in elections, but what followed — a ban on running for office, house arrest and a cascade of legal ­cases — marked a stunning turn in fortune for a man who was once the most powerful person in Pakistan and a close U.S. ally.

Authorities on Tuesday found an explosive device and two pistols about half a mile from ­Mushar­raf’s residence in Islamabad’s suburbs, a police official said.

An attorney for Musharraf told the court his client could not attend because of a “serious threat to his life.” The chief judge said he understood that “security” was necessary to reach the court and directed Musharraf to appear on Jan. 1.

— Associated Press

Pope celebrates first Christmas Eve Mass: Lauding ­Jesus’s humble beginning as a poor and vulnerable baby, Pope Francis on Tuesday celebrated his first Christmas Eve Mass as pontiff in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. “You are immense, and you made yourself small; you are rich, and you made yourself poor; you are all-powerful and you made yourself vulnerable,” Francis said of Jesus during his homily. He called Jesus “the light who brightens the darkness.”

— Associated Press

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