Rescuers battle mud,
rain to slowly dig out victims of Mexico landslide
LA PINTADA, Mexico (AP) -- Fourteen hours per body.
That’s how long rescue crews with shovels, hydraulic equipment, anything they can muster, are averaging to find the victims of a massive landslide that took half the remote coffee-growing village of La Pintada, leaving 68 people missing.
The Mexican army’s emergency response and rescue team slogged in several feet of mud with five rescue dogs on Sunday, recovering a third body, a man found wedged under the collapsed roof of dirt-filled home.
Lt. Carlos Alberto Mendoza, commander of the 16-soldier team, said it’s the most daunting situation he’s seen in 24 years with the Mexican army.
"They are doing unbelievable work, hours and hours for just one body," he told The Associated Press. "No matter how hard the day is, they never get tired of working."
Aborted war reunion leaves South Koreans wondering if they will ever see family members again
NAMYANGJU, South Korea (AP) -- Chang Choon didn’t get much sleep as he prepared to travel to North Korea this week to see his brother and sister for the first time in more than six decades. But the anticipation of what he called the wish of a lifetime was shattered after North Korea abruptly canceled planned reunions for families separated by the Korean War.
"My wish to meet them for the first time in 62 years has burst like a bubble," Chang, 81, said in a drawling voice by phone Sunday.
Chang is one of hundreds of South Koreans who had planned to visit North Korea’s scenic Diamond Mountain to meet long-separated relatives in what would have been the first such family reunion program between the rival countries in three years.
Millions of people have been separated since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, and not a peace treaty. The reunions are highly emotional, as most people who apply to take part are in their 70s or older and are eager to see their loved ones before they die. Most have had no word on whether their relatives are still alive, with their governments prohibiting ordinary citizens from exchanging letters, phone calls or email.
But the two Koreas agreed last month to resume the reunion program amid signs that their animosities were easing following springtime threats of war. The plan fizzed Saturday when North Korea announced it would indefinitely postpone the reunions because of Seoul’s "reckless and vicious confrontational racket" against Pyongyang.
Kenyan officials say forces rescued ‘most’ hostages in terrorist siege at mall
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Kenyan’s military said late Sunday it had rescued "most" of the remaining hostages held by al-Qaida-linked militants in an upscale Nairobi mall after launching a major operation to end a two-day standoff that had already killed 68 people.
The military assault, which began shortly before sundown, came as two helicopters circled the mall, with one skimming very close to the roof. A loud explosion rang out, far larger than any previous grenade blast or gunfire volley.
Kenyan police said on Twitter that a "MAJOR" assault by had started to end the bloody siege.
"This will end tonight. Our forces will prevail. Kenyans are standing firm against aggression, and we will win," Kenya’s National Disaster Operation Centre said on Twitter.
Kenya Defence Forces later said it had rescued most hostages and had taken control of most of the mall.
Suicide bombing at Sunni funeral in Iraq kills 16; roadside bomb kills 2 soldiers in north
BAGHDAD (AP) -- A suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt among Sunni mourners attending a funeral in Baghdad on Sunday, killing 16 people and wounding 35 others, officials said, in the latest episode of the country’s near-daily violence.
Police officials said the evening attack took place when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt inside a tent where the funeral was being held in Baghdad’s southern neighborhood of Dora.
Two other attacks in the country’s north left two policemen dead and 37 others wounded, the officials added.
Sunday’s bloodshed came a day after a wave of attacks killed 104 people, most at a double suicide attack on a Shiite funeral in Baghdad.
Violence has spiked in Iraq during the past few months. More than 4,000 people have been killed between April and August, a level of carnage not seen since the country was on the brink of civil war in 2006-08.
Suicide bombers attack church in northwest Pakistan, kill 78 people
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) -- A pair of suicide bombers blew themselves up amid hundreds of worshippers at a historic church in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing 78 people in the deadliest-ever attack against the country’s Christian minority.
A wing of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, raising new questions about the government’s push to strike a peace deal with the militants to end a decade-long insurgency that has killed thousands of people.
The Jundullah arm of the Taliban said they would continue to target non-Muslims until the United States stopped drone attacks in Pakistan’s remote tribal region. The latest drone strike came Sunday, when missiles hit a pair of compounds in the North Waziristan tribal area, killing six suspected militants.
The attack on the All Saints Church, which wounded 141 people, occurred as worshippers were leaving after services to get a free meal of rice offered on the front lawn, said a top government administrator, Sahibzada Anees.
"There were blasts and there was hell for all of us," said Nazir John, who was at the church in the city’s Kohati Gate district along with at least 400 other worshippers. "When I got my senses back, I found nothing but smoke, dust, blood and screaming people. I saw severed body parts and blood all around."
Merkel triumphs in German election, but unclear who in next government as allies face wipeout
BERLIN (AP) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives triumphed in Germany’s election Sunday and appeared likely to end up close to an absolute majority. While Merkel was headed for a third term, her center-right coalition partners faced ejection from parliament for the first time in post-World War II history.
Depending on which parties end up in parliament, Merkel could find herself leading a "grand coalition" government with the left-leaning Social Democrats or -- less likely -- with the environmentalist Greens. Either way, several weeks of difficult negotiations are expected. Each combination might bring a slightly softer tone to Europe’s debt crisis, but probably without any significant policy shifts.
Merkel, Germany’s chancellor since 2005 and the de facto leader of the response to Europe’s debt crisis over the past three years, told supporters it was "a super result." She wouldn’t immediately speculate about the shape of the next government, but the 59-year-old made clear she plans to serve a full term.
"I see the next four years in front of me and I can promise that we will face many tasks, at home, in Europe and in the world," Merkel said during a television appearance with other party leaders.
If her current coalition lacks a majority and the conservatives can’t govern alone, the likeliest outcome is a Merkel-led alliance with the Social Democrats. The two are traditional rivals, but governed Germany together in Merkel’s first term after an inconclusive 2005 election.
Pa. man charged with DUI on riding lawn mower
MURRYSVILLE, Pa. (AP) -- A western Pennsylvania man has been charged with driving drunk while carrying an open can of beer -- on a riding lawn mower.
Murrysville police say they found 55-year-old Thomas Marrone driving the mower along a road just before 1:30 a.m. Aug. 30.
Police say Marrone smelled of alcohol and had an open can of Coors Light beer in the mower’s storage compartment. They say he told them he was driving to his Murrysville home -- some 6.4 miles away.
Marrone didn’t immediately return a phone message left at his home Thursday, and online court records don’t list an attorney for him. He faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday on charges including driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license.