Monday, August 25, 2008

SPAIN

Spanair plane lands after flight trouble

MADRID | A jetliner owned by the same airline involved in a deadly plane crash in Madrid was forced to make an unscheduled stop Sunday because of a technical problem, the airline and Spanish aviation officials said.

Spanair Flight JK2565 was heading from the northeastern city of Barcelona to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands on Sunday when it had to divert to Malaga on Spain‘s southern coast. The Canary Islands was the same destination where Wednesday’s Spanair jet was headed when it crashed during takeoff at Madrid’s Barajas airport, killing 154 people.

There were no injuries in the Sunday incident, and the airline said the problem did not constitute an emergency. Spanair said the pilot detected a possible fault in a backup generator not required for flight and decided to land as a precaution, according to the Spanish news agency EFE.



SPAIN

Nuclear plant closed after generator fire

MADRID | A nuclear-power station shut down after an electrical generator fire Sunday, safety officials said, the latest incident at a station that has already been hit with record fines for its safety record.

The incident came just weeks after the government vowed to take action against another nuclear station over a radioactive leak last year.

In Sunday’s leak, environmental group Greenpeace said that a large column of smoke had been seen coming from the complex turbine room during the fire at the Vandellos II complex near Tarragona in northeastern Spain.

Officials at the Spanish Nuclear Safety Authority said the fire had been put out with no injuries or environmental damage reported.

IRELAND

Hostility to religion may have hurt pact

DUBLIN | EU hostility to religion may have led Ireland’s voters to deliver a shock rejection of the bloc’s key reform treaty in June, the country’s most senior Roman Catholic churchman said Sunday.

Voters in the predominantly Roman Catholic country sent shock waves through the European Union, when 53 percent of them rejected the Lisbon Treaty in the only popular vote on the text anywhere in the 27-nation bloc.

Addressing a summer school in the west of the country, Cardinal Sean Brady, lord primate of All Ireland, said the referendum result suggested “at least some of those who were previously enthusiastic about the founding aims of the EU, both social and economic, are now expressing unease.”

FRANCE

EU to convene summit on Georgia

PARIS | French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, will convene a special European summit on the crisis in Georgia on Sept. 1, his office said Sunday.

He called the Brussels summit on the future of relations between the EU and Russia and on aid to Georgia at the request of various European countries, the Elysee Palace said.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner had warned this week that Mr. Sarkozy might convene an emergency EU meeting if Russia failed to pull back its forces from positions in the ex-Soviet republic.

Russia withdrew tanks, artillery and hundreds of troops from their most advanced positions in Georgia on Friday, saying it had fulfilled all obligations under a French-brokered peace agreement.

But Russian troops still control access to Poti, south of the Moscow-backed breakaway region of Abkhazia, and have established other checkpoints around South Ossetia, where the conflict began.

FRANCE

‘No chance’ for missing climbers

ANNECY | Rescuers on Sunday suspended their hunt for eight climbers missing in an avalanche in the Alps, as France‘s interior minister warned there is “no longer any chance of finding someone alive.”

Michele Alliot-Marie also said there could be more people buried in the snow.

The minister gave her stark verdict after she traveled to the mountains to visit injured survivors and meet with rescue services in the resort base of Chamonix.

“It is extremely difficult to know for sure how many people were caught up in the avalanche,” Miss Alliot-Marie said. “Thanks to technology, we know for certain there are people buried under the snow, but it’s impossible to be sure exactly how many.”

The minister described the avalanche near France’s highest peak, Mont Blanc, as “gigantic” in scale and “without hope of escape” for the climbers.

Police initially said 10 people were missing, but later brought the number down to eight after two Italians turned up safe.

GUATEMALA

Airplane crash kills 10

GUATEMALA CITY | Ten people, including five Americans, died, and four others were injured Sunday when a propeller aircraft crashed near El Puente, Zacapa, a fire official said.

Officials Sunday had not identified the victims or determined the reason for the crash. The aircraft was flying from Tablones, Chiquimula to the capital city.

Officials said the aircraft burst into flames when it hit the ground, complicating the rescue. Ambulances and fire vehicles were hampered by the lack of road access to the site.

IRAQ

Suicide bomb kills 21 at feast

BAGHDAD | A suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest at a dinner feast Sunday in western Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib district, killing at least 21 people, police said.

Police Col. Dawood Suleiman in the nearby city of Fallujah gave the initial death toll as 21.

Security officials said the feast was attended by police and members of an anti-al Qaeda “Awakening” group.

ALGERIA

Algerian troops kill militants in clashes

ALGIERS | Algerian troops killed 10 Islamist militants during a security operation Sunday in the western province of Ain Defla, the Interior Ministry said.

The ministry gave no details of the incident, which followed a week of violence in the North African country. Two car bomb attacks in eastern Algeria on Wednesday killed at least 12 people near a hotel and a military headquarters. The previous day a suicide bomber drove a car packed with explosives into the entrance of a police school, also in eastern Algeria, killing 43 people.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

IRAQ

U.S. captures planner of Carroll kidnapping

BAGHDAD | The U.S. military said Sunday it has captured an al Qaeda militant thought to have planned the abduction of American journalist Jill Carroll in January 2006.

Salim Abdallah Ashur al-Shujayri, also known as Abu Uthman, was captured during an operation Aug. 11, the military said.

Miss Carroll was kidnapped in Baghdad on Jan. 7, 2006, during a freelance reporting assignment for the Christian Science Monitor. She was released after nearly three months in captivity.

IRAN

Ayatollah praises Ahmadinejad

TEHRAN | Iran’s supreme leader was quoted Sunday as praising President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for “standing up to” the West in a dispute over the country’s nuclear program, amid growing domestic criticism of the president’s management.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei offered unusually glowing praise of Mr. Ahmadinejad, who upon his election in 2005 sparked a confrontation with the West by resuming uranium enrichment and also prompted worldwide condemnation for denouncing Israel. The country’s spiritual leader has rarely, if ever, expressed such support for any other Iranian politician.

“Some bullying and brazen countries and their worthless followers wanted to impose their will on the Iranian nation, but … the president and the government have stood up to their excessive demands and moved forward,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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