- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 19, 2006

MEXICO

Blast leaves 66 trapped in coal mine

MEXICO CITY — Sixty-six miners were trapped two miles underground in a remote, semi-desert region of northern Mexico yesterday after an explosion ripped through a coal mine, rescue workers said.

Soldiers and civil protection staff were working with specialist mine teams to free those trapped.

The mine is in the northern part of Coahuila state, which borders Texas.

The explosion occurred in the early morning hours and was caused by gases that ignited, Coahuila Red Cross spokesman Sergio Guajardo said. Because of the depth of the mine, he said, it was not known whether the trapped miners were dead or alive.

SOUTH AFRICA

Mbeki sees chance for Aristide’s return

JOHANNESBURG — President Thabo Mbeki said yesterday that former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide may be able to return home after consultation with Haiti’s president-elect, local press reported.

“I would imagine from everything that I’ve seen and heard President [Rene] Preval himself wouldn’t want to oppose President Aristide’s return to Haiti,” Mr. Mbeki said on South African Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Mr. Aristide, who has lived in exile in South Africa since 2004, has been silent for most of his stay and has not commented on a return since the election of Mr. Preval, a former political ally.

PHILIPPINES

Little hope is seen for mudslide victims

GUINSAUGON — Hunting for bodies and burying the dead resumes in the central Philippines today, with rescuers holding out little hope for survivors in a village of 1,800 entombed by a collapsed mountainside.

Search teams have focused on a school packed with more than 250 children and staff when Friday’s landslide engulfed this farming community in Southern Leyte province. But as daylight faded yesterday, so had almost all hope.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council said 68 bodies had been pulled from the mud, with 941 villagers still missing.

VENEZUELA

Chavez warns Rice: ‘Don’t mess with me’

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez rudely rebuked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice after she described Venezuela as a menace to regional democracy.

“Don’t mess with me, Condoleezza. Don’t mess with me, girl,” Mr. Chavez said during his weekly broadcast yesterday, sarcastically offering her a kiss and jokingly referring to her as “Condolence.”

Miss Rice described Venezuela last week as one of the “biggest problems” for the Western Hemisphere and promised to develop regional alliances to expose what the State Department calls anti-democratic behavior in Venezuela.

AUSTRIA

Holocaust denier faces stiff sentence

VIENNA — A conservative British historian goes on trial today on charges of denying that the Holocaust occurred. The crime is punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

The trial of David Irving opens amid fresh debate over freedom of expression in Europe, where the printing and reprinting of satirical cartoons of the prophet Muhammad has triggered violent protests worldwide.

Mr. Irving, 67, has been in custody since his arrest in November on charges stemming from two speeches that he gave in Austria in 1989. He is accused of denying the Nazis’ extermination of 6 million Jews.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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