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By Times Wires
Published January 13, 2008
BATHURST, New Brunswick
A van carrying a Canadian high school boys' basketball team collided with a truck Saturday, killing seven students and the coach's wife on their way home from a game. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Derek Strong said the seven players - between the ages of 15 and 18 - were pronounced dead at the crash site after their van crossed the center line and hit the tractor-trailer shortly after midnight.
"The sudden loss of eight people in this unthinkable accident shocked the nation and all Canadians join you in mourning their passing," Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a condolence letter to the school's principal.
The accident occurred as the team was making a return trip from Moncton in Canada's far eastern New Brunswick province after a storm dumped snow, sleet and freezing rain. The nine senior varsity players - accompanied by their coach, his wife and their daughter - were minutes from reuniting with their families when the team's coach lost control of the van. Strong said most of the victims were ejected from the vehicle. The van was equipped with seat belts but investigators didn't know if they were used.
Opposition scores big victory in election
The opposition Kuomintang party won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections in Taiwan on Saturday. President Chen Shui-bian, who has antagonized China with his efforts to forge a national identity for the self-governing island, resigned as chairman of the governing Democratic Progressive Party to take responsibility for the loss. The victory by the Kuomintang enhances its prospects of success at the voting for president in March, in which it is expected to continue campaigning for closer ties with China. The official Central Election Commission said the Kuomintang had won 81 seats in the 113-seat Legislative Yuan.
Militants occupy parliament building
Militant nationalists occupied the local parliament building Saturday while police outside dispersed demonstrators with tear gas in the capital of this French Mediterranean island. A fire erupted on the building's fifth floor, where the offices of Assembly President Camille de Rocca Serra are located. The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear, and the full extent of the damage was not known. Earlier Saturday, several hundred people demonstrated in the streets to protest what they claimed was growing repression on the island.
2 Dutch soldiers killed in Afghan firefight
Two Dutch soldiers were killed in a clash with militants in Afghanistan, the Netherlands' Defense Ministry said today. A 20-year old private and a 22-year old corporal died during a firefight with "opposing militant forces" Saturday evening, the ministry said. Two Afghan soldiers were killed in fighting later the same evening, the ministry said.
Army helicopter crashes, killing 11
A Macedonian Army helicopter returning from a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia crashed Saturday in foggy conditions, killing all 11 people on board, the Defense Ministry said. The MI-17 helicopter crashed about 15 miles from the capital, Skopje, minutes before it was to land. The helicopter was returning from Bosnia, where Macedonia contributes 30 troops to a peacekeeping mission. It was the deadliest ever accident for the Macedonian air force. "This is a terrible accident and a big tragedy. My condolences go to the families of the soldiers," Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said. The government established a panel to investigate the cause of the accident.
Germany alerted to terror attack risk
Lebanese authorities warned of terrorist attacks on targets within Germany after arresting an al-Qaida suspect in Beirut, prompting the Justice Ministry in Berlin increase security, authorities said Saturday. "There was a tip from Lebanon - a warning tip," said Stefanie Amft, a spokeswoman for German federal police. A senior Beirut police official said suspect Mohammed Naddoum was arrested Thursday after phoning a threat to the German Embassy in Beirut earlier in the week. Germany's Focus magazine identified the suspect as "Mohammed N." and reported that he was a Syrian accused of al-Qaida ties. It did not cite its sources.
PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria
Dozens feared dead in fuel tanker fire
A speeding fuel tanker crashed and spilled its cargo Saturday in Nigeria's main southern city, and as many as three dozen people were feared dead in the resulting fire, police and witnesses said. One of the truck's wheels appeared to burst as the vehicle sped before dawn through a turn in an outlying neighborhood of Port Harcourt, tipping the tanker over and sending the fuel spilling across cars and into shop doors before igniting in a fireball, witnesses said. Up to three dozen people were feared killed in the blaze, said a Rivers State police spokeswoman, Ireju Barasua.
Japan suspends beef imports from U.S. plant
Japan suspended beef imports from a U.S. meatpacking plant after recent shipments from the facility contained products that failed to meet Japanese import regulations, officials said today. The Agriculture and Health Ministries said imports from Smithfield Group's Moyer packing factory in Pennsylvania will be suspended because 1,264 boxes of a recent shipment contained beef from cattle 21 months old. Japan allows only meat from cows 20 months old or younger.
Boost security for missile base, U.S. told
Washington needs to provide more security for Poland if it wants Warsaw to host a U.S. missile defense base, the Polish defense minister said in remarks published Saturday. Bogdan Klich, who visit the United States on Tuesday for talks on the program with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said a base would expose Poland to new threats, chiefly from terrorists, and it would be "very difficult" to persuade Poles to support the program without more security measures.
[Last modified January 13, 2008, 01:20:57]