Death toll in coal mine blast climbs to 87
Rescuers worked in frigid cold to reach 21 miners trapped underground today as the death toll from a huge gas explosion in a northern Chinese coal mine to 87. The blast Saturday at the state-run Xinxing mine in Heilongjiang province near the border with Russia was the latest to hit China's mining industry — the world's deadliest. Authorities say safety is improving, but hundreds still die in major accidents each year. More than 500 people were working in the Xinxing mine at the time of the explosion, the State Administration of Work Safety said in a statement. It said 418 workers escaped.
Chávez praises Carlos the Jackal
President Hugo Chávez is praising Carlos the Jackal, the imprisoned Venezuelan once notorious for a series of Cold War-era bombings, assassinations and hostage dramas, saying he was a "revolutionary fighter" and not a terrorist. The Venezuelan president lauded Carlos — whose real name is Ilich Ramirez Sanchez — during a speech Friday night saying: "I defend him. It doesn't matter to me what they say tomorrow in Europe." Ramirez is serving a life sentence in a French prison for the 1975 murders of two French secret agents and an alleged informant.
Life term sought for U.S. defendant
Prosecutors on Saturday requested life in prison for an American student and her ex-boyfriend accused in the fatal stabbing of her British roommate during a drug-fueled sex game. In their closing arguments, the prosecutors said Amanda Knox and Italian Raffaele Sollecito should be convicted on charges of murder and sexual violence for the 2007 slaying of Meredith Kercher. Knox, 22, who is from Seattle, took a deep breath when prosecutor Giuliano Mignini requested life imprisonment — Italy's stiffest punishment. She told the court the accusations were "pure fantasy." A verdict is expected in early December.
Government to free 136,000 refugees
About 136,000 Tamil refugees detained in squalid and overrun Sri Lankan government camps since the country's civil war ended six months ago will be released after Dec. 1, Basil Rajapaksa, senior adviser to and brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said Saturday. About 300,000 war refugees were forced into the camps after fleeing the final months of the government's decades-long war with the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels. More than half of the ethnic-minority Tamils were released in recent months amid pressure from rights groups and foreign governments.
Iran: The military will begin large-scale air defense war games today aimed at protecting nuclear facilities from possible attack, Air Force Gen. Ahmad Mighani said Saturday.