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Flooding kills 287 in Algeria

Violent winds and heavy rain lashed northern Algeria, collapsing buildings, flooding roads and killing at least 287 people, authorities said Saturday.

Torrential rains began drenching Algiers on Friday, causing muddy waters to rush through city streets and several buildings in one of the city's poorer sections to crumble to the ground.

Throughout Algiers, residents waded in waist-deep water trying to reach safety, and traffic came to a standstill as roads became impassable because of high waters, felled trees and debris. At least four people were killed in vehicle crashes.

Interior Minister Nourredine Yazid Zerhouni visited the most affected neighborhoods, and urged residents to stay home today to keep roads open for emergency and rescue vehicles.

At least 250 people were injured, the Civil Protection Authority said.

Other parts of the North African country were also affected. Among the victims was a little girl in the western city of Oran who was swept away by flood waters. Six people drowned in another western city, Tipaza.

The sudden rainfall followed several very dry weeks in the region. After a 24-hour downpour, the rain had largely stopped by Saturday afternoon.

TYPHOON LINGLING: Tropical storm Lingling intensified into a typhoon and blew toward Vietnam with winds of 132 mph on Saturday after killing at least 148 people and leaving 177 missing in central and southern Philippine provinces.

LANDSLIDE IN INDIA: Torrential rains in southern India caused a landslide that killed at least 40 people, including 10 children, the Press Trust of India reported Saturday. At least 20 people were still missing in the state of Kerala after a cluster of six houses in Amboori village was submerged by the landslide Friday night.

It's official: WTO approves China's membership

DOHA, Qatar _ China achieved what it had worked 15 years for when the World Trade Organization formally approved its membership Saturday, and the world's most populous country immediately threw its massive weight behind efforts to start new talks on liberalizing global trade.

But a consensus on a new round looked almost as distant as it did two years ago in Seattle, as the world's trading heavyweights _ the United States, the European Union and Japan _ staked out potentially conflicting positions on issues ranging from environmental protection to anti-dumping legislation.

On day two of their five-day meeting, trade ministers from almost all the WTO's 142 members unanimously approved China's application for membership Saturday, bringing the once-isolated communist country _ and its 1.2-billion consumers _ firmly into the global marketplace.

Taiwan is to be accepted today.

Howard, conservatives win third term in Australia

SYDNEY, Australia _ Prime Minister John Howard and his conservative government won a third term in national elections Saturday, capping a stunning political comeback fueled largely by the Australian leader's efforts to keep refugees out of the country.

"I cannot express to you the sense of honor and privilege I feel once again being elected as prime minister of the greatest country in the world," Howard told cheering supporters at a Sydney hotel after opposition Labor party leader Kim Beazley conceded defeat and resigned his post.

With more than 80 percent of the vote counted, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Web site said Howard's Liberal Party had won 68 seats in the 150-seat lower house of parliament and its junior partner, the National Party, took 12 seats, giving the coalition a majority.

Labor won 67 seats and independent candidates won 3 seats, the ABC reported, based on Australian Electoral Commission figures.

Howard's policy of turning away refugee boats became a central plank in his campaign along with his staunch support for U.S.-led military strikes against Afghanistan.

Countries hammer out global warming policy

MARRAKECH, Morocco _ International delegates agreed on Saturday to the first-ever rules aimed at stopping global warming.

Negotiators meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, emerged from more than 19 hours of haggling early Saturday and said they had smoothed over differences in how to enforce the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which calls for cuts in carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases" suspected in global warming.

All 165 participating countries approved the full set of rules later Saturday morning.

The Kyoto Protocol requires industrial countries to scale back emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by an average of 5 percent from their 1990 levels by 2012.

The United States, watched from the sidelines after deciding in March to abandon the treaty and draw up its own action plan.

Delegates said the agreement opened the way for ratification by enough countries to bring the treaty into force, probably before a global environment summit next September.

The treaty needs ratification by 55 countries, including those that produced 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in 1990.