Floods, Mudslides Kill

150 in Central America

SAN SALVADOR -- Heavy rains pounded Central America for a fourth day Wednesday, pushing rivers over their banks, flooding communities and unleashing at least two deadly mudslides as the region's death toll increased to more than 150 people.

Hurricane Stan, which had helped trigger rainstorms in Central America, weakened to a depression over Mexico's southern state of Oaxaca, a day after making landfall along the country's Gulf coast. But punishing rains continued in Central America and southern Mexico.

Heavy rains brought flooding and mudslides to 88 communities in Guatemala, where officials reported 79 people killed and 49 injured. That tally included a mudslide that buried several homes and claimed 15 lives near the tourist destination of Lake Atitlan, about 60 miles west of the capital, Guatemala City, according to volunteer firefighters.

In El Salvador, President Elias Antonio Saca said 62 people had been killed, mostly by landslides following days of nonstop rain throughout the country.

Nine people died in storm-related incidents in Nicaragua. Four deaths were reported in Honduras and one in Costa Rica.

EUROPE

* LONDON -- The Church of England confirmed John Sentamu as archbishop of York, making him the first African to hold such a senior position in the state church. Sentamu, 56, a campaigner against racism and gun violence, has also led protests against the Iraq war.

The post is the church's second-highest position after archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the worldwide Anglican communion.

* MADRID -- Spain's Constitutional Court ruled that the country's courts could investigate allegations of genocide and torture committed under military rule in Guatemala between 1978 and 1986.

The ruling could give a boost to attempts in Spain to launch cases over human rights abuses in other countries.

* MELILLA, Spain -- Spain said it planned extraordinary measures to deter African migrants from storming the borders of its North African outposts after hundreds of people tried to burst through for the fifth time in a week.

Spain said it would invoke a 1992 accord with Morocco allowing it to return to that country sub-Saharan Africans who had made it into its outposts of Ceuta and Melilla.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* JERUSALEM -- A first meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas since Israel's Gaza Strip pullout could take place next week, perhaps as early as Tuesday, an Israeli government official said.

-- From News Services

In Tapachula, Mexico, a woman who identified herself as Maria despairs near the Coatan River, which overflowed from rains from Hurricane Stan.