- The Washington Times - Friday, October 24, 2003

RUSSIA

46 feared trapped in coal mine

NOVOSHAKHTINSK — Russian rescue teams, working with simple drills and their bare hands, raced to break through into a flooding shaft where 46 coal miners were trapped more than half a mile below the surface yesterday.

Officials said no contact had been made with the miners in the aging shaft in southern Russia, deluged by freezing water and coal sludge when the walls of an underground lake breached late Thursday.

Hopes rested on the prospect they had scrambled up into a tiny air pocket some 2,500 feet beneath the surface — with floodwaters still pouring into the shaft.

BRITAIN

Princes criticize Diana’s former butler

LONDON — Princes William and Harry harshly criticized former royal butler Paul Burrell yesterday for what they called a “cold and overt betrayal” of their mother in revelations about her private life.

In a statement unprecedented for its strength of feeling, 21-year-old William, who was also speaking on behalf of his younger brother, said Princess Diana would have been “mortified” at Mr. Burrell’s actions if she were alive today.

Mr. Burrell has written about his years as the princess’ butler, and excerpts have been carried all week in the Daily Mirror newspaper.

LIBERIA

Rebels pressure new leader to quit

MONROVIA — Liberia’s main rebel faction said yesterday it wanted the head of a new transition government to step down, casting a shadow over a peace accord meant to end nearly 14 years of civil war.

The leader of the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) accused Gyude Bryant, who took office on Oct. 14, of violating the peace accord in a disagreement over rebel nominations to key administrative posts.

Mr. Bryant, a low-profile businessman, was picked in August by the warring factions for his perceived neutrality, in line with a peace deal signed after the departure of now-exiled leader Charles Taylor.

AFGHANISTAN

Former fighters give up arms

KUNDUZ — Parading without their assault rifles, nearly 1,000 former Afghan fighters showed their commitment Friday to laying down their weapons at the start of a United Nations-sponsored disarmament program.

The fighters are members of militias loyal to local warlords, and their demobilization is an important part of President Hamid Karzai’s effort to expand his government’s control outside the capital, Kabul.

ITALY

Millions protest pension reforms

ROME — Millions of Italians from the Alps to the island of Sicily staged a half-day strike yesterday against government plans to reform the pensions system, snarling public transport, closing factories and shutting schools.

However, business leaders suggested the walkout was smaller than in recent labor disputes and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s supporters said they would press ahead with moves to raise the retirement age.

Italy’s three main unions said 1.5 million flag-waving, whistle-blowing protesters had demonstrated in piazzas throughout the country, and some 10 million workers — about 80 percent of those on full-time contracts — had laid down tools for four hours.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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