EUROPE

Apartment Building Collapses in Italy

FOGGIA, Italy--A six-story apartment building came crashing down on 24 sleeping households in southern Italy yesterday, trapping them in a 15-foot-high heap of concrete and dust. Only one family escaped unharmed, fleeing with seconds to spare after a frantic attempt to save their neighbors. Dozens of people are feared dead.

Awakened by the sound of the building shaking itself to pieces, the family of five ran apartment to apartment, ringing doorbells and pounding on doors. The effort nearly cost them their lives, said building superintendent Luigi Laconta, who ran from the structure with the family at the last minute.

"I took a step back, thinking I could see someone stick their head out the window," Laconta said. "Instead, I saw the entire building crumple."

By nightfall, authorities had found 17 survivors; 70 to 75 people were believed to be inside when the building collapsed.

N. Ireland Protestants Reject Proposals

BELFAST--Northern Ireland's major Protestant party narrowly voted against a compromise plan designed to make the Good Friday peace accord work.

The Ulster Unionists' secret 14 to 13 vote marked a severe setback at a critical moment for Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, who has spent the past 10 weeks trying to resolve his party's confrontation with the Roman Catholic Sinn Fein party.

The rejected draft proposals, mediated by U.S. diplomat George Mitchell, hinged on a conciliatory but noncommittal statement offered by the Irish Republican Army. According to Ulster Unionist sources, the outlawed group's statement emphasized commitment to its 1997 cease-fire--but made no overt promise to disarm as the Ulster Unionists have long demanded.

ASIA

Pakistanis Debate Sharif's Status

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan--Pakistan's former prime minister will never get a fair trial on charges of treason and kidnapping brought by the military leaders who ousted him, his supporters said. But critics demanded punishment for a leader they say ruined the country.

Nawaz Sharif, who has been in army custody since the Oct. 12 coup, will likely be tried in a special anti-terrorist court that he himself established to dispense "swift justice." The charges against him could bring a death sentence or life imprisonment.

Sharif's former religious affairs minister, Zafar ul-Haq, said he and his colleagues would ask the army to allow lawyers to visit Sharif, but they feared he would not get a fair trial. "We feel that even the trial would not be fair under the circumstances," he told Associated Press Television News. "It would be a travesty of justice."

Burmese Military Frees Women, Youths

RANGOON, Burma--The military regime has freed all members of the women's and youth wings of Burma's main opposition party who have been detained since September 1998, the party said. The National League for Democracy, headed by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, said the final group of detainees were freed Nov. 4.

Remains of U.S. Soldiers Reach JapanTOKYO--Remains believed to be those of three U.S. soldiers killed in the Korean War arrived in Japan from North Korea, U.S. military officials said. It will take several months for authorities to identify the remains, which were to be flown to Hawaii today, 1st Lt. John Sheets said. About 8,200 U.S. servicemen are still listed as missing from the 1950-53 war. Since 1996, the United States has recovered remains believed to be those of 42 Americans.

100,000 Flee Fighting in Sri Lanka

VAVUNIYA, Sri Lanka--More than 100,000 civilians fled the last northern town under government control as Sri Lanka's military braced for an attack by Tamil guerrillas.

The rebels, who want the north and east carved into a homeland for minority Tamils, had warned in leaflets and radio broadcasts that the residents should leave Vavuniya by yesterday morning.

The guerrillas recently seized a string of garrisons in one of their biggest victories in the 16-year war. Sri Lankan soldiers hunkered down behind sandbag bunkers and prepared to defend the town.

Vavuniya, a rice trading center and military headquarters 130 miles north of the capital, Colombo, has a population of 125,000. About 175,000 people live in adjoining areas on this island nation off the southern tip of India.

FOR THE RECORD

* TAIPEI, Taiwan--Taiwan's leading presidential candidate, James Soong, picked U.S.-trained heart surgeon Chang Chao-hsiung, who has no political experience, to be his running mate, surprising many who expected him to lure a big name politician from a major party.

* UNITED NATIONS--Rwanda's U.N. representative demanded a full explanation and reversal of a U.N. war crimes appeals court decision to release a Rwandan genocide suspect on grounds he had spent too long in jail awaiting trial.

* YEREVAN, Armenia--Armenian authorities have arrested four more people in connection with the attack on parliament in which the prime minister and other top officials were killed, prosecutors said.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We are simply saying, m'lords, that what may have been appropriate 800, or even 200, years ago is not appropriate today."

-- Lady Jay of Paddington, addressing Britain's House of Lords -- Page A1