- - Sunday, October 28, 2012

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — A magnitude-7.7 earthquake struck off the west coast of Canada, but no major damage was reported.

Residents in parts of British Columbia were evacuated, but the province appeared to withstand the biggest quake in Canada since 1949 largely unscathed.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the temblor hit the Queen Charlotte Islands just after 8 p.m. local time Saturday at a depth of about 3 miles and was centered 96 miles south of Masset.

It was felt across a wide area in British Columbia, on its Pacific islands and on the mainland.

The National Weather Service issued a tsunami warning for coastal areas of British Columbia, southern Alaska and Hawaii, but later canceled it for the first two and downgraded it to an advisory for Hawaii.


Coup attempt leader arrested in Guinea-Bissau

BISSAU — The soldier who led a failed coup attempt last week in Guinea-Bissau was arrested, the spokesman for the armed forces said Sunday.

Pansau Ntchama was arrested Saturday outside the capital, Bissau, said spokesman Dahaba Na Walna.

He said the country’s former army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Zamora Induta, was also behind the Oct. 21 coup attempt.

Mr. Ntchama was a commando and Gen. Induta’s bodyguard before the former army chief fled Guinea-Bissau in the wake of a coup in April.

Gen. Induta is now in Portugal, Mr. Walna said.

Mr. Ntchama sought exile in Portugal after allegedly carrying out the 2009 assassination of Guinea-Bissau’s former president.

The government last week said that Mr. Ntchama traveled from Portugal to Gambia, then to Angola to pick up arms, and into Guinea-Bissau to carry out the attack.

Gunmen led by Mr. Ntchama attacked a military base near the airport in Bissau on Oct. 21, and six soldiers were killed in the clash. At least four of the six killed were assailants working with Mr. Ntchama.

The army fought back and the coup failed.


Officials bow to protests against factory

NINGBO — After a weekend of protests by thousands of citizens over pollution fears, a local Chinese government relented Sunday and agreed that a petrochemical factory would not be expanded, yet the protesters refused to halt their demonstration.

The standoff in the prosperous city of Ningbo has highlighted the deep mistrust between people and the government in China.

If they continue, the demonstrations would upset an atmosphere of calm that Chinese leaders want for a transfer of power in the Communist Party leadership next month.

The protest in the eastern city, at a sensitive time in China’s political calendar, swelled over the weekend and led to clashes between citizens and police.

The Ningbo city government said in a statement Sunday evening that they and the project’s investor had “resolutely” agreed not to go ahead with the expansion.

The factory is a subsidiary of Sinopec, one of the biggest petrochemical companies in the world.

Outside the government offices where crowds of protesters remained, an official tried to read the statement on a loudspeaker but was drowned out by shouts demanding that the mayor step down.

On the third attempt, the crowd briefly cheered but then turned back to demanding that authorities release protesters being held inside.


Iraqis search Iranian plane bound for Syria

BAGHDAD — Iraqi authorities forced an Iranian cargo plane heading to Syria to land for inspection in Baghdad to ensure it was not carrying weapons, an Iraqi official said Sunday.

It was the second such forced landing this month. The plane was released after the check.

The move appeared aimed at easing U.S. concerns that Iraq has become a route for shipments of Iranian military supplies that might help Syrian President Bashar Assad battle rebels in his country’s civil war.

The head of the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority, Nassir Bandar, said the inspection took place Saturday.

The inspectors allowed the plane to continue its flight after they determined that no weapons were aboard, he said.

“Our experts found that the plane was carrying only medical supplies and foodstuffs,” Mr. Bandar said, “so the flight was allowed to proceed.”

Mr. Bandar said Iraqi authorities would continue searching planes suspected of transporting arms to Syria.

Iraqi officials have said repeatedly that they would not allow their country or airspace to be a corridor for arms shipments to either Syrian government forces or rebels.

Iraq ordered another Iranian cargo plane to land for inspection on Oct. 2. No weapons were found in that search, either.


Sicily vote provides test for national elections

MILAN — Sicilian elections on Sunday were providing a key testing ground for Italy’s political parties before national elections in the spring to replace the technical government of Premier Mario Monti.

Ten candidates were vying for governor of one of Italy’s most important regions in the election, which was called after the resignation of Gov. Raffaele Lombardo amid concerns that the region risked insolvency and after his indictment on charges of Mafia association. He has denied the charges.

Turnout by midday was 11 percent, up from the elections in 2008 which was 10 percent at the same time.

The region of about 5 million inhabitants and, with an unemployment rate of nearly 20 percent, is considered a barometer for national elections.

Italian political parties are jockeying for strategies to retake power in Rome when the mandate for Mr. Monti’s government expires.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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