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5 Dead, More than 60 Missing in Philippines Ferry Sinking


PHILIPPINES FERRY: The Philippine Coast Guard says the death toll in the sinking of a ferry carrying nearly 1,000 passengers has climbed to five, with more than 60 missing. Maritime officials said rescuers transferred 900 people to other vessels as the Super Ferry 9 tilted in heavy seas off the country's southern coast, but some could be unaccounted for because of the chaos. Authorities say navy ships and air force helicopters have been deployed to search for the missing. U.S. helicopters engaged in military exercises in the southern Philippines and a U.S. support vessel with medical personnel on board have also been dispatched to the site. Coast guard officials say an investigation will be conducted into what caused the accident as soon as rescue operations are over.

NOKOR NUCLEAR: The U.S. special envoy on North Korea expressed concern Sunday about Pyongyang's claim to be moving closer to enriching uranium for the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Stephen Bosworth told reporters in Seoul that the North will have to clarify the issue if there is to be any progress in the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Bosworth met with Wi Wung-lac, South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, on Friday. South Korea's state-run news agency Yonhap quoted an official as saying the nuclear envoys discussed a joint response to North Korea's recent nuclear threats and conciliatory gestures. The American diplomat said Sunday that both sides continue to push for the North's nuclear disarmament within the six-party framework.

THAILAND UNREST: Police in southern Thailand say unidentified gunmen killed three Muslims from the same family in Yala province Saturday night. Authorities said Sunday that the victims were a 61-year-old village chief, his 33-year-old daughter and her 42-year-old husband. Police said a group of separatists raided their house and opened fire on the family before fleeing the scene. Thailand's Muslim-majority southern provinces have seen an upsurge in violence in recent days, coinciding with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. On Friday security officials said a bomb exploded in front of a restaurant in Yala city, killing a police officer and wounding 12 other people. A motorcycle bomb exploded outside a restaurant in Pattani province Thursday, killing a man and wounding more than 20 other people.

AFGHANISTAN: The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan has inspected the site of a recent air strike in Kunduz province that local officials say killed civilians. U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal Saturday visited the area in northern Afghanistan where a day earlier a U.S. jet dropped bombs that blew up two fuel tankers hijacked by the Taliban. The blast killed as many as 90 people. It is unclear how many were civilians. NATO has begun a formal investigation into the incident and promised to make the results public.
In eastern Afghanistan, U.S. officials say an American soldier was killed Sunday in an insurgent attack. The military did not provide further details.

US-SPACE SHUTTLE: The U.S. space agency NASA says two astronauts have completed a 7-hour spacewalk outside the International Space Station. American Danny Olivas and Christer Fuglesang of Sweden unreeled 18 meters of cable for a new room scheduled to be installed on the station early next year. The pair did run into trouble late in the spacewalk, failing to connect one end of the cable. Ground controllers told the astronauts to wrap the cable in insulation and pack it away for a future mission. The astronauts also installed a cargo platform and two global positioning antennas, and repaired the gyroscope used to steer the space station.

It was the third and final spacewalk on the current mission of the Space Shuttle Discovery, which is scheduled to leave the space station on Tuesday.

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