4th dive finds no sign of missing airliner

An unmanned submarine hunting for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet completed its fourth dive in the southern Indian Ocean on Thursday without finding any signs of the aircraft, according to the company operating the device.

The Bluefin-21 has covered about 46 square miles of ocean floor in depths down to 15,400 feet, Jim Gibson, general manager of Phoenix International Holdings Inc., the company performing the search under contract to the U.S. Navy, wrote in an e-mail. Although the first two efforts were interrupted by anomalies, Gibson called the dives “very successful.” He did not have information on where or when the next dive is planned, he said.

— Bloomberg News

Security Council meets on N. Korea

The head of the commission of inquiry that accused North Korea of crimes against humanity told the U.N. Security Council on Thursday that it must take action against “a totalitarian state without parallel in the contemporary world.”

It was the first time the council had met to discuss the unprecedented U.N. report, which reveals graphic details and makes an urgent call to action.

The informal meeting comes as members of the commission push for its findings to be formally referred to the council and the International Criminal Court. Commission head Michael Kirby also said the commission wants the council to adopt targeted sanctions “against those individuals most responsible” and stressed that only the Security Council can launch “immediate, impartial and just action to secure accountability.”

The United States, France and Australia called the council meeting, which was open to all U.N. member states and selected non-governmental organizations. Media could not attend.

Kirby told the council that as many as 120,000 people are imprisoned in North Korea and most “will never leave the camps alive.”

— Associated Press

Forest searched for abducted girls

Able-bodied men from the Nigerian town of Chibok have taken to the dangerous Sambisa Forest to search for more than 100 abducted girls and young women whom the military claimed to have freed from their Islamist militant kidnappers, an education official said Thursday.

Six more have managed to escape their captors on their own, bringing to 20 the number that are free, the education commissioner of Borno state, Musa Inuwo Kubo, told reporters.

Parents of the kidnapped students expressed their anguish over a Defense Ministry statement claiming to have freed all but eight of the students by Wednesday night.

The Defense Ministry spokesman had said late Wednesday that the principal of the school from which the young women were abducted had confirmed that all but eight were freed. But the principal, Asabe Kwambura, denied that claim.

— Associated Press

French special forces free aid workers, kill 10 militants: French special forces backed by helicopters led a pre-dawn operation Thursday and freed five humanitarian aid workers who had been held captive by a “terrorist group” — killing about 10 of the alleged militants, officials said. Working off intelligence tips, the French forces intercepted two pickup trucks carrying the hostages and their captors north of the historic city of Timbuktu. The five went missing Feb. 8, said Col. Gilles Jaron, a French military spokesman. In a joint statement Thursday, the presidents of France and Mali said the five Malian aid workers were in good health.

Climbers feared buried in Everest avalanche: About five climbers are feared buried after an avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest and hit a route used to ascend the world’s highest peak, officials said. A Nepal Tourism Ministry official said the avalanche hit the area just below Camp 2 around 6:30 a.m. Friday.

Peru evacuates 4,000 near volcano: Peruvian authorities have ordered the preventative evacuation of 4,000 people living near the Ubinas volcano, which has been spouting ash clouds up to 2 miles high. Agriculture Minister Juan Benites was quoted as saying it will take three days to move the residents of two southern districts and their animals.

— From news services