232 Confirmed Dead in Indian Cyclone
BALESHWAR, India--Army engineers yesterday cleared highways and rescued hundreds of people marooned after a deadly cyclone, but bad weather stalled relief efforts in many areas and angry villagers begging for food blocked other roads.
News reports confirmed that at least 232 people were killed in one of the worst cyclones ever to hit eastern India. The storm snapped all communication links to the worst-hit areas, and officials feared the death toll could rise into the thousands.
The supercyclone--named for its 155-mph winds--inundated swaths of land with torrents of rain, wrenched telephone and electricity poles from the ground and uprooted millions of trees. It roared in from the Bay of Bengal on Friday, just 12 days after another cyclone had devastated the same region and killed more than 100 people.
South Korean Police Seek Fire Suspects
INCHON, South Korea--South Korea's deadliest fire in a quarter-century was a disaster waiting to happen, a weekend crowd of teenagers partying in an unlicensed beer bar so crowded that waitresses could hardly move around the tables.
The only exit from the dimly lit bar was a stairway barely a yard wide. There were no fire alarms and no sprinklers in the nightspot in Inchon, a port city 30 miles west of Seoul.
With 55 people dead after Saturday night's fire, police sought arrest warrants for five people: four electricians they said ignored safety procedures and a teenage worker accused of inadvertently starting the fire when he broke a light bulb while working on a new karaoke club in the basement of the three-story building. The five face charges of involuntary manslaughter.
Indonesian General Vows Wide Army Role
SINGAPORE--Indonesia's influential security minister has reportedly said that the military will have a "much wider role" in the future under the country's new government. Gen. Wiranto's statements follow mass student protests in recent weeks demanding that the military get out of politics.
The military will make "various efforts in helping the people's welfare, which we call nation-building and national development," Wiranto was quoted as telling Singapore's Straits Times newspaper.
Inquiry Says Army Killed Civilians in Aceh
JAKARTA, Indonesia--A July attack by Indonesian soldiers on a village in Aceh province left 51 unarmed civilians dead, government investigators announced.
The military's claims that many of those killed and the five missing had been separatist rebels were dismissed, Indonesia's official Antara news agency reported Saturday. Investigator Azhary Basar said there was little evidence there were any rebels in the village of Beutong Ateuh at the time.
Witnesses said soldiers rounded up villagers attending an Islamic class and took them to a nearby forest where they were killed. The army contended that the victims were rebel fighters killed in a gun battle with troops.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Israel Opens Hebron Road for Palestinians
HEBRON, West Bank--Ignoring protests from Jewish settlers, the Israeli army opened a Hebron thoroughfare to Palestinian taxis, allowing them to drive alongside the divided city's Jewish settlement.
The street opening meant the 130,000 Palestinians who live in Hebron can now take taxis straight through the city instead of using a long, congested detour.
It was also another minor step forward for the peace process. Israel and the Palestinians agreed in a September accord to open the route by the end of November. It will gradually be opened to all Palestinian traffic.
Egyptian Officers to Get Retrial
CAIRO--An Egyptian court ordered the retrial of two police chiefs fired for security lapses that allowed Muslim militants to massacre 58 tourists in Luxor in 1997, security sources said.
Police chief Maj. Gen. Medhat Shanawani and his deputy, Maj. Gen. Abul-Atta Youssef Abul-Atta, were dismissed in June 1998 for ignoring security warnings that sites in the southern tourist resort could be targets for militants.
Fighting Begins Anew in Sierra Leone
FREETOWN, Sierra Leone--Fighting has erupted again between rebel factions in the northern Sierra Leone towns of Lunsar and Makeni, military officials said.
The officials, from the West African peacekeeping force and from the fledgling Sierra Leone army, said the death toll from the clashes, which began in mid-October, could run into the hundreds and that tens of thousands had fled their homes.
The latest clashes, which began Friday, have delayed disarmament under a peace deal signed in July in Togo by veteran rebel leader Foday Sankoh and elected President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.
Nigerian Police Storm U.S. Office
ABUJA, Nigeria--Riot police stormed a U.S. oil company's Nigerian branch, killing four people who were among a group that had seized the office, the Guardian newspaper reported today.
The raid occurred Friday at the headquarters of Oklahoma-based Wilbros Limited near Port Harcourt, 235 miles southeast of the commercial capital of Lagos, the Guardian said.
Police said they opened fire after the militants shot first and wounded three officers, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported. The reports could not be independently confirmed.
Members of the Choba Youth Association had been holed up inside the office for several days. Spokesman Ndubuisi Ingwe denied the group had used violence and said it was demanding Wilbros oil revenues be shared with the surrounding Choba community, where most people live in abject poverty.
FOR THE RECORD
* NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania--Mauritania has recalled its ambassador to Iraq because of criticism by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein of its decision to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel, the Mauritanian state news agency said.
* TBILISI, Georgia--Georgian voters cast their ballots in a parliamentary election, which President Eduard Shevardnadze said could become a milestone in the country's move toward democracy.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"This is a critical breakthrough: It's the first major step toward reconciliation between the two churches since the Reformation."
-- Rev. H. George Anderson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and one of the negotiators and signers of the Augsburg agreement, Page A1