ASIA

Ferry With 600 Aboard Sinks in Philippines

CEBU, Philippines--A ferry carrying more than 600 assengers and crew sank early today in the central Philippines and only about 190 people had been rescued by noon, officials said.

The ship, MV Asia South Korea, left central Cebu City for Iloilo City about 11 p.m. yesterday and went down early today near Bantayan Island, about 300 miles southeast of Manila, Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado said.

A massive rescue operation was mounted, Mercado said. A passing cargo ship quickly rescued about 180 people, he said, while three naval ships, other merchant vessels, air force helicopters and scores of fishing boats converged on the area, plucking people from the water.

Officials said there were 630 aboard--578 passengers and 52 crew members. The ferry's departure had been delayed while excess passengers were off-loaded, the Coast Guard said.

The office of Civil Defence said in a statement the ship was battered by huge waves, causing it to sink.

E. Timor War Crimes Court Recommended

UNITED NATIONS--The U.N. Security Council should establish an international war crimes tribunal for East Timor unless Indonesia acts quickly to investigate its military's involvement in atrocities there, U.N. investigators said. Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid has said his government would not allow its top generals to be tried by an international tribunal.

EUROPE

New Government Formed in Italy

ROME--A new center-left cabinet was sworn in yesterday after Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema pulled together a coalition that he hopes will put a quick end to Italy's political crisis.

D'Alema then headed to the Senate, where the cabinet won a vote of confidence. But the cabinet faces a bigger challenge in the Chamber of Deputies today, where the governing coalition appears to barely have a majority.

Cargo Plane Crash Kills 4 in Britain

GREAT HALLINGBURY, England--A Korean Air 747 cargo plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Stansted Airport north of London yesterday, setting off a fireball and apparently killing all four people aboard.

Two bodies were recovered, police said, and the other two crew members also were believed to have died in the crash, the latest in a series of Korean Air accidents in recent years.

The plane narrowly missed houses in the village of Great Hallingbury, three miles south of the airport.

THE AMERICAS

Cuba Accepts Prisoners From U.S.

HAVANA--Six Cuban prisoners who were deported after seizing hostages at a Louisiana jail are being held in Havana for investigation, Cuba's government said.

The acceptance of the prisoners after the weekend standoff was "an exceptional case" that will not be repeated, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alejandro Gonzalez said. Government officials said they agreed to let the prisoners be repatriated Monday for humanitarian reasons and to prevent further violence in the uprising, which the prisoners staged in a desperate bid for their release.

Leading Colombian Academic Shot

BOGOTA, Colombia--Two gunmen on a motorcycle shot and wounded one of Colombia's leading political scientists, an attack widely considered to have been aimed at sabotaging efforts to make peace with leftist rebels.

Eduardo Pizarro, a National University professor, was attacked as he was walking to work. He was rushed to a clinic in Bogota, where he was treated for bullet wounds in the leg and backside, clinic director Juan de Francisco said.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Arafat, Barak Involved in Peace Talks

RAMALLAH, West Bank--Disputes over an Israeli troop pullback and the release of Palestinian prisoners are expected to be resolved in the next few days as a result of a secret meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, a senior Palestinian official said.

With a deadline for a peace treaty framework only 53 days away, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak decided late Tuesday to become more closely involved in the negotiations.

The two leaders plan to hold frequent one-on-one talks, Arafat adviser Nabil Abourdeneh said. He said he expected disagreements over an Israeli troop withdrawal from 5 percent of the West Bank and the release of Palestinian security prisoners to be resolved in the coming days.

AFRICA

U.S. Lifts Ban on Flights to Nigeria

LAGOS, Nigeria--The United States ended a six-year ban on direct air links with Nigeria after reporting security improvements at Lagos airport. Although the official reason for the ban in 1993 was the lack of security, it was widely taken as a snub to Nigeria's military rulers.

The lifting of the ban is a morale boost to President Olusegun Obasanjo's civilian government.

Earthquake Kills 20 in Algeria

ALGIERS--A strong earthquake shook western Algeria, toppling several buildings and killing at least 20 people, the Interior Ministry said.

Another 75 people were injured in the quake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 5.8.

The quake struck at 6:37 p.m., just as residents of the area of Ain Temouchent, near the coastal city of Oran, were breaking their daylong fast for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Some old buildings in Ain Temouchent, 340 miles west of Algiers, were destroyed, state-run television said.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"[Boris] Berezovsky is a little like the Road Runner. You think the [coyote] has got him, and, 'Beep, beep, beep' -- he gets in the revolving door behind you and comes out ahead of you."

-- Eric Kraus, chief strategist at Nikoil Capital Markets, a brokerage firm in Moscow, on tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who has just won a seat in Russia's lower house of parliament --Page A15