- - Monday, September 6, 2010


Mud buries Guatemala bus; second slide kills rescuers

NAHUALA | When news came over the radio that a landslide had buried two pickup trucks and a bus along a major highway, Suagustino Pascual Tuy and others rushed to the rescue, picks and shovels in hand.

Digging through the mud, they managed to extract several people alive, including Pascual Tuy’s nephew. Suddenly the mountain above began crackling and a second cascade of rock and earth swept over the gathered crowd, turning many would-be rescuers into victims themselves.

Torrential rains from a tropical depression saturated the ground in parts of Guatemala and unleashed more than a dozen landslides over the weekend, killing at least 38 people and leaving many more unaccounted for.

Firefighters confirmed at least 20 dead in the village of Nahuala, where the twin slides hit a section of the Inter-American highway. About 50 more were believed buried under tons of rubble, regional fire department Maj. Otto Mazariegos said.

“Under the earth, there is a bus that carried we don’t know how many people, and there are those who tried to help the victims of the first slide,” Maj. Mazariegos said.


Police find $9 million in cash in oil drum

SAN SALVADOR | Police in El Salvador say officers found $9 million in cash crammed into an oil drum buried at a ranch near the capital.

Authorities in the Central American country say it took three days to count the bundles of $100, $50 and $20 bills. A police statement issued Saturday says the money could be linked to drug traffickers.

Authorities say the cash was found Thursday night at a ranch in the town of Penitente Abajo, about 40 miles from the capital.

The U.S. Embassy says the money was found with the help of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

El Salvador uses the U.S. dollar as its national currency.


Castro in military uniform may signal comeback

HAVANA | Is Castro making a comeback?

For the first time since he stepped down as Cuba’s president four years ago, Fidel Castro appeared in public on Friday in his full military uniform — minus the star and laurels he held as commander in chief.

In his speech to students at the University of Havana, he repeated his warning that the world stands on the brink of nuclear war due to tensions that pit the U.S. and Israel against Iran.

But his attire may be more significant than his message — in a country where little signals often mean a lot. There’s bound to be speculation in Cuba now that the 84-year-old is seeking a larger role in Cuban politics, after turning power over to his younger brother Raul.

Before today, Mr. Castro had spoken mostly in closed sessions to small groups, and his appearances were usually not announced ahead of time.

Friday’s speech came at the same university where Mr. Castro began his political career as a student activist 60 years ago.


Drunken driver kills 15 at Ecuador bus stop

QUITO | Police in Ecuador say 15 people were killed and at least seven injured when a drunken man drove an SUV into a crowded bus stop in the coastal city of Guayaquil.

Police said in a communique that many of the injuries are serious. They say the driver was arrested after the Sunday morning crash in the Bastion Popular neighborhood. Police identified him as Luis Alberto Hessmer Vargas.

After the incident, angry residents set fire to his car and later to a police car.

People interviewed by local TV stations said it appeared the driver fell asleep at the wheel.


World’s shortest man is 27 inches tall

BOGOTA | Edward Nino Hernandez is in many ways a typical 24-year-old Colombian male. He loves to dance reggaeton, dreams of owning a car — preferably a Mercedes — and wants to see the world.

Top on his list of people he would like to meet are Jackie Chan, Sylvester Stallone and former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

What sets Mr. Nino apart is his size. He is slightly taller than a piece of carry-on luggage and weighs just 22 pounds.

Mr. Nino has just been officially certified as the world’s shortest living man by Guinness World Records, measuring 27 inches.

“He hasn’t grown since he was 2 years old,” his mother, Noemi Hernandez, said of the oldest of her five living children.

The previous titleholder was He Pingping of China, who was 1.5 inches taller and died March 13. The Guinness people discovered Mr. Nino afterward.

They say Mr. Nino’s reign is not likely to last long, however.

Khagendra Thapa Magar of Nepal is expected to take over after he turns 18 on Oct. 14. He measures about 22 inches and is currently recognized by Guinness as the shortest living teen.

“I feel happy because I’m unique,” Mr. Nino said in an interview Sept. 3 with Associated Press.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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