World news: News to find breaking world news, the latest international news.

Russia

Russia points to human error in fatal Polish crash

By MONIKA SCISLOWSKA and MATT MOORE | Associated Press Writer : WARSAW, Poland Russian investigators suggested human error may have been to blame in the plane crash that killed the Polish president and 95 others, saying Monday that were no technical problems with the Soviet-made plane.

The Tu-154 went down while trying to land Saturday in dense fog near Smolensk airport in western Russia. All aboard were killed, including President Lech Kaczynski and dozens of Polish political, military and religious leaders.

They had been traveling in the Polish government-owned plane to attend a memorial at nearby Katyn forest honoring thousands of Polish military officers who were executed 70 years ago by Josef Stalin's secret police.

The pilot had been warned of bad weather in Smolensk, and was advised by traffic controllers to land elsewhere which would have delayed the Katyn observances.

Full Story

Moscow

Swiss solar-energy plane in maiden test flight

by Andre Lehmann | Associated Press Writer : PAYERNE, Switzerland (AFP) The Solar Impulse aircraft, a pioneering Swiss bid to fly around the world on solar energy, successfully completed its first test flight in western Switzerland on Wednesday.

"There has never been in the past an aeroplane of that kind to fly. It was a huge question mark for us and it's an extraordinary relief," said Bertrand Piccard, pioneering round-the-world balloonist who co-founded the project.

"Today for Solar Impulse it's an incredible milestone. It gives us confidence for the next flight and for the next missions," he added.

The high tech prototype had lifted off into blue skies at a speed of just 45 kilometres per hour (28 miles per hour) after running a few hundred metres down the runway at Payerne air base shortly before 10:30 am (0830GMT)

Propelled by four 10 horsepower electric motors, the gangling single-seater aircraft and test pilot Markus Scherdel slowly gained altitude until 1,200 metres (3,900).

Full Story

Moscow

Death toll from Moscow subway blasts rises to 39

By DAVID NOWAK | Associated Press Writer : BEIJING MOSCOW A woman has died in a clinic from wounds suffered in the double suicide bombing of the Moscow subway, officials said Tuesday, raising the death toll to 39 as the country entered a day of mourning.

Five people remain in critical condition out of 71 hospitalized after the blasts that were blamed on Chechen rebels, city health department official Andrei Seltsovsky told the Rossiya-24 state news channel. Only eight victims had been formally identified, he said.

The preliminary investigation found that female suicide bombers detonated belts of explosives during the Monday morning rush-hour at two central Moscow subway stations. It was the first terrorist activity in the Russian capital for years.

Flags flew at half staff on government buildings and at the Kremlin as a day of national mourning began. Entertainment events and shows on television were cancelled. Services were to be held at several churches.

Full Story

China

123 trapped in flooded coal mine in northern China

BEIJING At least 123 people were trapped underground Sunday after water gushed into a coal mine in northern China, a government agency said.

The Wangjialing coal mine in Shanxi province was flooded by underground water as 261 miners were working in the pit, the State Administration of Work Safety said on its Web site.

The administration said 138 of the miners were lifted safely to the ground but the others remained trapped and rescue work was under way. It said the cause of the flood was still under investigation.

Although China's mine safety record has improved in recent years, it is still the deadliest in the world, with blasts and other accidents common.

The mine is located between Xiangning county and the city of Hejin and covers an area of 70 square miles (180 square kilometers), the official Xinhua News Agency said. Calls to the mine rang unanswered.

Full Story

earthquake-turkey

Strong earthquake slams eastern Turkey, kills 51

By KADIR KONUKSEVER and SUZAN FRASER | Associated Press Writers OKCULAR, Turkey A strong, pre-dawn earthquake knocked down stone and mud-brick houses, barns and minarets in eastern Turkey on Monday, killing 51 people in five villages, the government said.

The earthquake surprised many residents as they slept, crumpling buildings into piles of rubble. Panicked survivors fled into narrow village streets, some climbing out of windows, as nearly 80 aftershocks measuring up to 5.5 and 5.3 magnitude rattled the region.

The Kandilli seismology center said the 6.0-magnitude quake hit at 4:32 a.m. (0232 GMT, 9 p.m. EST Sunday) near the village of Basyurt in a remote, sparsely populated area of Elazig province. The region is 340 miles (550 kilometers) east of Ankara, the capital.

The U.S. Geological Survey listed the quake at 5.9 magnitude. The government initially put the death toll at 57 but later lowered it to 51 with no explanation. In addition to the deaths, 34 people were being treated for injuries, Turkey's crisis center said.

Full Story

Starbucks

Starbucks asks not to be center of gun debate

SEATTLE Coffee chain Starbucks Corp. is sticking to its policy of letting customers carry guns where it's legal and said it does not want to be put in the middle of a larger gun-control debate.

The company's statement, issued Wednesday, stems from recent campaign by some gun owners, who have walked into Starbucks and other businesses to test state laws that allow gun owners to carry weapons openly in public places. Gun control advocates have protested.

The fight began heating up in January in Northern California and has since spread to other states and other companies, bolstered by the pro-gun group OpenCarry.org.

Some of the events were spontaneous, with just one or two gun owners walking into a store. Others were organized parades of dozens of gun owners walking into restaurants with their firearms proudly at their sides.

Full Story

tsunami chile

Huge quake hits Chile; tsunami threatens Pacific

By ROBERTO CANDIA and EVA VERGARA | Associated Press Writer : TALCA, Chile One of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded struck Chile on Saturday, toppling homes, collapsing bridges and plunging trucks into the fractured earth. A tsunami threatened every nation around the Pacific Ocean roughly a quarter of the globe.

Chileans near the epicenter were tossed about by the magnitude-8.8 quake as if shaken by a giant. At least 147 people were killed, according to Carmen Fernandez, director of the National Emergency Agency.

The quake shook buildings in Argentina's capital of Buenos Aires, and was felt as far away as Sao Paulo in Brazil 1,800 miles (2,900 kilometers) to the east. About 13 million people live in the area where shaking was strong to severe, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

In Talca, just 65 miles (105 kilometers) from the epicenter, furniture toppled as the earth shook for more than a minute in something akin to major airplane turbulence.

Full Story

SeaWorld

SeaWorld: Whale show to resume after trainer death

By MITCH STACY | Associated Press Writer : ORLANDO, Fla. SeaWorld says its Shamu Believe show with killer whales will resume this weekend after a whale killed its trainer at the Orlando park.

SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment President Jim Atchison says trainers won't get in the water with the killer whales for now until officials finish reviewing what happened to trainer Dawn Brancheau.

The veteran trainer was dragged into the water Wednesday by killer whale Tilikum. The medical examiner says she likely died of traumatic injuries and drowning.

Atchison says whale shows will resume Saturday. He says he's not sure how long it will be before trainers are allowed to get back in the water with the animals.

SeaWorld has locations in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio.

Full Story

Taliban-MARJAH

Marines airdrop into Taliban stronghold

By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU | Associated Press Writer : MARJAH, Afghanistan Elite Marine recon teams were dropped behind Taliban lines by helicopter Friday as the U.S.-led force escalated operations to break resistance in the besieged insurgent stronghold of Marjah.

As the major NATO offensive entered its seventh day, about two dozen Marines were inserted before dawn into an area where skilled Taliban marksmen are known to operate, an officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of security concerns.

Other squads of Marines and Afghans, marching south in a bid to link up with Marine outposts there and expand their territory, came under sniper fire and rocket attacks by midday. The rattle of machine-gun fire and the thud of mortars echoed nearby.

The Marjah offensive is the biggest since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan and a test of President Barack Obama's strategy for reversing the rise of the Taliban while protecting civilians.

A NATO statement said troops were still meeting "some resistance" from insurgents who engage them in firefights, but homemade bombs remain the key threat to allied and Afghan forces.

Full Story

belgian-train-collision

At least 18 killed in Belgian train collision

By ARTHUR MAX, Associated Press Writer : BRUSSELS A rush-hour commuter train sped through a red signal and slammed into an oncoming train as it left a suburban Brussels station Monday, killing at least 18 people and disrupting rail traffic in northern Europe.

Investigations into one the worst accidents on the Belgian rails were likely to focus on whether human error was responsible or if it could have been influenced by the persistently freezing temperatures that have iced up the European capital.

Officials said 80 people were injured, 20 of them seriously, and the death toll 15 men and three women was not considered final. As darkness fell more than 10 hours later, rescuers were still looking for victims in the wreckage, said Jos Colpin, the spokesman for the federal prosecutor's office.

The fate of the two drivers was not immediately known, and officials said they were having difficulty identifying some of the victims.

Full Story