- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2005

PAKISTAN

Quake death toll crosses 79,000

BALAKOT — The death toll soared to 79,000 yesterday from South Asia’s mammoth earthquake, after a survey of one of the two hardest-hit Pakistani regions, making it one of the deadliest quakes in modern times.

More aftershocks rattled the region yesterday, sending up huge clouds of dust from steep-sided mountain valleys where villages lay in pieces.

The central government updated its death toll from the Oct. 8 quake to 47,700, but regional authorities gave much higher figures, based on information trickling in from outlying areas.

The government of North West Frontier Province said 37,958 persons had died there and the toll was likely to rise. The prime minister in Pakistani-held Kashmir said at least 40,000 persons died in that neighboring region. India has reported 1,360 deaths in the part of Kashmir that it controls.

SPAIN

Islamic feminists plan congress

MADRID — A Spanish Muslim group is staging what it says is the first international congress on Islamic feminism this month, which will call for a reinterpretation of Islam’s sacred texts, the organizers said yesterday.

The 300 delegates likely to attend the congress in Barcelona include many nongovernmental organizations, universities and delegations from Morocco, Egypt and Syria, a spokesman said.

RUSSIA

Bird flu reaches south of Moscow

BRUSSELS — Russia told the European Union yesterday that it had found the deadly strain of avian flu in birds in a region south of Moscow, marking the steady westward march of a virus scientists fear could trigger a pandemic.

The European Commission said Russia had identified the H5N1 bird flu strain about 124 miles south of Moscow in the Tula region, next to a lake with numerous wild ducks.

The H5N1 strain has also been discovered in Turkey and Romania.

BRITAIN

Guardian reporter in Iraq missing

LONDON — The Guardian newspaper said yesterday that one of its reporters has disappeared in Iraq, and it thinks he was kidnapped.

Rory Carroll, 33, an Irish citizen who is the Guardian’s Baghdad correspondent, was on assignment when he vanished, the paper said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi police yesterday arrested a nephew of Saddam Hussein, charging that he served as a top financier of Iraq’s insurgency. Yasser Sabhawi Ibrahim, son of Saddam’s half brother Sabhawi Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti, was arrested in a Baghdad.

COLOMBIA

High court backs extended presidency

BOGOTA — Colombia’s highest court yesterday approved a law allowing presidents to run for second terms, but President Alvaro Uribe, a staunch U.S. ally, faces another hurdle before he can seek re-election next year.

In a landmark ruling, the Constitutional Court voted to approve legislation passed by Congress last year that lifts a nearly 200-year-old ban on presidential re-election, said Manuel Jose Cepeda, president of the court.

Mr. Uribe still must wait for a court verdict on a second measure passed by Congress before his name can appear officially on the ballot in the May elections.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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