INDONESIA QUAKE: Indonesian officials say a strong earthquake that rocked Central Java province has killed more than 27-hundred people and injured thousands of others. The 6.2 magnitude quake struck early today (Saturday) near the heavily populated city of Yogyakarta, flattening buildings and causing widespread panic.
Government officials say the death toll is expected to rise as more bodies are recovered. Local reports say area hospitals are filled with injured people, and hundreds more are standing outside awaiting medical attention. Yogyakarta's airport has been closed, and electricity in the area is out.
BURMA - SUU KYI: Burma's military government has extended the house arrest of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi for another year, despite international calls for her release. Her latest term of house arrest had been due to expire today (Saturday). On Friday, Burmese police visited the Rangoon home of the pro-democracy leader, just hours after U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan made an appeal for her release.
EAST TIMOR VIOLENCE: East Timor's Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri says escalating violence in the capital is part of a plot to overthrow the government. Speaking at a press conference today (Saturday) in Dili, Mr. Alkatiri said - in his words - "what is in motion is an attempt to stage a coup d'etat." It is not clear who Alkatiri believed was behind the plot attempt. Hundreds of residents fled Dili today as armed gangs rampaged through the streets, despite efforts by Australian peacekeeping troops to restore order.
IRAQ - US MARINES: Two American news reports say U.S. Marines stationed in Iraq may have deliberately killed at least 15 Iraqi civilians last November. The reports (by the New York Times and Associated Press) Friday concern an incident in the town of Haditha. U.S. Marines initially said the civilian deaths were caused by a roadside bomb and an ensuing firefight with insurgents. But residents of the town said there was no firefight, and the U.S. forces opened fire without provocation.
THAILAND FLOODS: Rescue workers in northern Thailand continue searching through mud and debris for survivors and bodies in the aftermath of flash floods and mudslides that killed at least 62 people. Officials are still assessing the damage today (Friday) in five northern provinces following heavy rains that brought on the floods and mudslides earlier this week. Worst-hit was the province of Uttaradit, where at least 41 people died. In all, authorities believe 300-thousand people were affected.
US - CIA: President Bush has praised the confirmation of his choice to be the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The U.S. senate voted 78 to 15 on Friday to approve the nomination of General Michael Hayden.
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