- - Sunday, December 25, 2011

UNITED KINGDOM

Queen Elizabeth stresses importance of family

LONDON — Queen Elizabeth II has stressed the importance of family and friendship in her annual, pre-recorded Christmas message to the nation.

The theme of her broadcast was especially poignant Sunday as Elizabeth’s husband, Prince Philip, remained in the hospital recovering from a heart procedure. The message was recorded Dec. 9, before he was hospitalized.

Wearing a festive red dress, the queen said the importance of family was driven home by the marriages of two of her grandchildren this year.

She spoke of the strength family can provide during times of hardship and how friendships are often formed in difficult times.

Elizabeth pointed to the Commonwealth nations as an example that family “does not necessarily mean blood relatives but often a description of a community.”

RUSSIA

Three people dead in storm off east coast

MOSCOW — Rescue vessels and a helicopter were searching for five people missing in a fierce storm off Russia’s east coast after a Cambodia-flagged ship sank early Sunday.

The Russian Emergencies Ministry said it had recovered three bodies from the icy waters of La Perouse Strait, which lies between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan.

The accident took place in the same waters in which a Russian floating oil rig capsized and sank Dec. 18, killing 17 people. Thirty-six people are still missing, feared dead.

Officials said five of the Cambodia-flagged ship’s crew members were Russian and the others are Indonesian. Two of the dead have been identified as Russian nationals, and one remains unidentified.

The ship, named Ginga, was sailing through the Russian waters from a Japanese port. Russian news agencies reported it was a fishing boat.

Emergencies Ministry representatives were not immediately available for comment.

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