COLOMBIA
Probe: Jetliner ran out of fuel before crash

Colombian aviation authorities said Monday that an airliner that crashed with a Brazilian soccer team aboard had run out of fuel before it could land. Seventy-one people died in the Nov. 28 accident.

A statement by the civil aeronautics agency said the conclusion was based on the plane’s black boxes and other evidence. It said the evidence points to human error, not technical problems or sabotage.

Experts had earlier suggested that fuel exhaustion was a likely cause of the crash, which killed all but a few members of the Chapocoense soccer team, which was heading to a championship playoff match in Medellin, Colombia.

The plane was in the air for about 4 hours and 20 minutes when air traffic controllers in Medellin put it into a holding pattern because another flight had reported a suspected fuel leak and was given priority.

In a recording of a radio message from the pilot of the LaMia flight, he can be heard repeatedly requesting permission to land because of a lack of fuel and a “total electric failure.”

— Associated Press

JAPAN
Deal set to curb U.S. base worker immunity

Japan and the United States have agreed in principle on guidelines for limiting immunity from Japanese prosecution for civilian workers at U.S. military bases, after a murder case this year on a southern Japanese island involving a Marine-turned-contractor, officials said Monday.

Since July, both sides have been negotiating several points concerning U.S. civilian contractors at American bases who are subject to protection under the bilateral Status of Forces Agreement.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said the two sides have agreed on how to define what constitutes a “civilian contractor” at a U.S. base and hope to sign the agreement during President Obama’s term.

The May arrest of the base contractor, accused of raping and killing a 20-year-old woman, renewed outrage on Okinawa, where resentment has been simmering over the island’s heavy U.S. troop presence. That led Tokyo and Washington to try to establish a clearer definition of “civilian base workers.”

About 50,000 U.S. troops are stationed in Japan, more than half of them based on Okinawa. Also, 7,000 Americans employed as civilian contractors were at U.S. bases in Japan as of March.

— Associated Press

SYRIA
Russia: Mass graves found in east Aleppo

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Monday that its troops had found mass graves in the northern city of Aleppo with bodies showing signs of torture and mutilation.

Dozens of bodies have been uncovered, according to a spokesman for the ministry, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov. He said some bore gunshot wounds.

Although the Syrian war is now largely fought with mortars, tanks and air power, death has come at close quarters as well. Human rights observers and the media have recorded numerous examples of massacres and organized torture, perpetrated by the government, the opposition and Islamic State militants.

The Russian air force helped Syrian President Bashar al-Assad capture Aleppo last week.

Konashenkov also accused rebels, who controlled eastern Aleppo before they were pushed out, of laying booby traps and mines, endangering civilians.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday that at least 63 troops and militiamen have been killed by booby traps in eastern Aleppo since the government took control of it Thursday.

— Associated Press

China resumes ties with Sao Tome: China and Sao Tome and Principe officially resumed diplomatic ties in a triumph for Beijing over rival Taiwan after the African island nation abruptly broke away from the self-ruled island last week. Beijing considers Taiwan a part of China’s territory. Beijing and Taipei have competed for allies since the end of China’s civil war in 1949.

Typhoon kills 6 in Philippines: A powerful typhoon blew out of the northern Philippines after killing six people and spoiling Christmas in many provinces, where more than 380,000 people headed to safer ground. Typhoon Nock-Ten cut power to five entire provinces. More than 300 flights were delayed or rescheduled and ferries were barred from sailing, stranding thousands of travelers.

— From news services