- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 26, 2008

CUBA

Castro blames Olympic judge

HAVANA | Fidel Castro on Monday defended the Cuban tae kwon do athlete who kicked a judge in the face at the Beijing Olympics, saying Angel Matos was rightfully indignant over his disqualification from the bronze-medal match.

Tae kwon do officials want Matos and his coach banned for life from the sport. But Mr. Castro expressed “our total solidarity” for both Matos and his coach Leudis Gonzalez. He also said, without providing details, that the coach had been offered a bribe.

Matos “was predisposed and indignant,” after being unjustly disqualified, Mr. Castro wrote. “He couldn’t contain himself.”



Matos was winning 3-2 in the second round when he fell to the mat after being hit by his opponent, Kazakhstan’s Arman Chilmanov, and was awaiting medical attention when he was disqualified for taking too much injury time. Fighters get one minute, and Matos was disqualified when his time ran out.

MEXICO

Tropical storm lashes peninsula

CABO SAN LUCAS | Tropical Storm Julio lashed the southern half of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula with rain early Monday, but was expected to weaken to a tropical depression and move out over the Gulf of California later in the day.

The storm drenched the resort-studded southern Baja California with heavy rains Sunday as authorities evacuated more than 2,500 families living along riverbeds near the coast.

Tropical storm warnings for the southern tip of Baja California were discontinued but remained in effect farther north on the peninsula’s west coast from Punta Abreojos to El Pocito and along the east coast from Mulege to San Juan Bautista. By early Monday, the storm was centered about 45 miles west-northwest of Loreto, moving north-northwest near 15 mph.

The storm had top winds near 40 mph, but was expected to weaken as it moved out over the Gulf of California.

The U.S. Hurricane Center in Miami said Julio could dump 3 to 6 inches of rain on the normally parched Mexican peninsula, raising fears of flooding.

Most vacationers rode out the bad weather inside their hotel rooms, but some ventured out on shopping trips and excursions.

At the hillside Hotel Finiterra, the 224 guests were warned to stay away from the ocean, but none made plans to leave early, said front desk manager Jorge Castro. “They can see it’s not a huge problem. Some have even gone out on activities, on tours, or sand biking.”

GUATEMALA

Engine trouble hit before crash

GUATEMALA CITY | The pilot of a small plane carrying humanitarian workers called in engine trouble about 45 minutes before crashing in a field in eastern Guatemala, killing 10 people, including five Americans.

The Cessna Caravan crashed about 60 miles east of Guatemala City on Sunday and the burned wreckage of the plane was scattered along the edge of a barren field lined with palm trees, an aviation official and a survivor said.

The pilot tried to make an emergency landing, Civil Aviation director Jose Carlos said. Eight passengers were killed, along with the Guatemalan pilot and co-pilot, he said.

Mr. Carlos said five of the passengers killed were Americans, but the nationalities of the other three had not been determined. Four other Americans on board were injured and were being airlifted to a hospital in the capital.

Sarah Jensen, a 19-year-old who survived the crash with minor cuts and bruises, said she and her family were headed to a village in the area of El Estor to build homes for CHOICE Humanitarian, a group based in West Jordan, Utah.

Her brother and father were killed in the crash, and her mother had serious burns and contusions. The family is from Amery, Wisc., Miss Jensen told the Associated Press in a brief interview at the hospital.

Aero Ruta Maya, the airline operating the plane, said only 12 people were on the plane, including the pilots, a discrepancy that could not immediately be resolved.

The army provided a list of passengers, but the names appeared to be garbled. The U.S. Embassy did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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