China Typhoon Kills 63,

Injures Hundreds More

SHANGHAI -- The death toll from a typhoon rose to 63 early Friday with more than 1,800 injured after the strongest storm of the season slammed into China's southeastern coast, official news reports said.

Another 15 people were missing in Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai, where Typhoon Rananim roared ashore late Thursday, according to the Web site of the main Communist Party newspaper, the People's Daily, and other outlets.

Power in the major city of Taizhou was knocked out and millions of people lost water and phone service, the reports said. The reports did not cite any source for the information but gave identical casualty figures. Many of the casualties were caused by collapsing homes, the reports said.

Rananim was traveling northeast from Taiwan, where it killed one person on Thursday, packing sustained winds of 87 mph and gusts of up to 109 mph.


* BEIJING -- More than 125,000 people were left homeless after an earthquake in southwest China killed four and injured nearly 600. The quake also cracked walls in reservoirs, posing a threat to villages downstream, the New China News Agency said Thursday.

The quake, measuring 5.6 on the open-ended Richter scale, rocked the county of Ludian in Yunnan province on Tuesday, collapsing more than 18,000 houses and damaging 45,000 others. Relief workers were rushing tents, medicine and food to the disaster area, the news agency said.

About 8,000 tents were delivered to the area, only enough for about half of those whose homes were destroyed. The rest had to improvise shelters from plastic sheeting, said John Sparrow, a spokesman for the Red Cross office in Beijing.

* SINGAPORE -- Lee Hsien Loong, the eldest son of modern Singapore's founding father, became the republic's third prime minister in a tightly choreographed succession aimed at underlining the island's stable reputation.

In his first speech as prime minister, Lee, 52, directly addressed the tight control the government exerts over the affluent city-state, saying he wanted a more open and inclusive society where economic growth was not an end in itself.

* JAKARTA, Indonesia -- A human rights court acquitted Indonesia's special forces chief of ordering the killings of 23 anti-government demonstrators in 1984 -- a ruling that dismayed rights advocates.

About 50 uniformed soldiers in the courtroom cheered when judge Herman Hutapea read the verdict saying there was no evidence to prove that Maj. Gen. Sriyanto Muntrasan had ordered any of the killings.

* HANOI -- Vietnam broadcast a nationwide warning about the recurrence of bird flu, saying three people who died of respiratory illness have been identified as having been infected with the H5 virus.

The government announcement, issued by Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on state television, did not specify whether the deaths were from the H5N1 strain of avian influenza that killed 16 people in Vietnam and eight in Thailand earlier this year.


* TBILISI, Georgia -- Artillery fire killed three Georgian troops, and a hospital and villages in South Ossetia were damaged in a violent escalation of Georgia's dispute with its breakaway province. Georgian officials said 10 other servicemen were wounded.

Russia, Georgia and separatist South Ossetia, which all have peacekeeping forces in the province, called an immediate meeting of a peacekeeping commission in the provincial capital of Tskhinvali to try to avoid further violence.

* MADRID -- Bombs exploded in the Spanish coastal cities of Santander and Gijon, injuring two men, in what officials said was an attempt by the Basque separatist group ETA to hurt Spain's thriving tourism industry.

-- From News Services