- - Wednesday, December 5, 2012

PHILIPPINES

NEW BATAAN — Stunned parents searching for missing children examined a row of mud-stained bodies covered with banana leaves while survivors dried their soaked belongings on roadsides Wednesday, a day after a powerful typhoon killed nearly 300 people in the southern Philippines.

Officials fear more bodies may be found as rescuers reach hard-hit areas that were isolated by landslides, floods and downed communications.

At least 151 people died in the worst-hit province of Compostela Valley when Typhoon Bopha lashed the region Tuesday, including 78 villagers and soldiers who perished in a flash flood that swamped two emergency shelters and a military camp, provincial spokeswoman Fe Maestre said.

Disaster-response agencies reported 284 dead in the region and 14 fatalities elsewhere from the typhoon, one of the strongest to hit the country this year.

About 80 people survived the deluge in New Bataan with injuries, and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who visited the town, said 319 others remained missing.

MALI

African leader aims for Mali mission in 2013

PARIS — U.N.-mandated African forces could intervene in lawless northern Mali early next year, Ivory Coast’s president said Wednesday, calling such an operation urgent to prevent the area in West Africa from becoming a hotbed of terrorists and drug traffickers.

Alassane Ouattara spoke while visiting France, which offered financial support for African efforts to stabilize northern Mali and also pressed for a quick military intervention.

Mr. Ouattara chairs the West African bloc known as ECOWAS, which has put together a plan for 3,300 African troops to be deployed in the region.

Mr. Ouattara urged the U.N. on Wednesday to pass a resolution this month allowing the operation. If that happens, the operation could start “in the first quarter” of 2013, he said.

India

Government wins voteto woo foreign big-box firms

NEW DELHI — The Indian government won a vote in parliament’s powerful lower house Wednesday that gave backing to its plans to open up the country’s massive retail sector to international big-box companies such as Wal-Mart.

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