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Quake kills 1, brings tsunami warning

A strong quake hit near Sakhalin Island in Russia’s Far East today, reportedly killing one person and triggering small tsunami waves.

The temblor, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.4, struck at 11:38 a.m. near southern Sakhalin, according to Japan’s Meteorological Agency. One person was killed, the Russian news service Interfax reported.

Tsunami waves of about 8 inches hit the coastal town of Rumoi on Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido shortly after 1 p.m., the agency said.

Waves up to 20 inches could hit elsewhere on Hokkaido’s western coast, the agency warned.


Sudan endorses U.N. peacekeepers

Sudan on Wednesday endorsed a U.N. resolution to send 26,000 peacekeepers to Darfur, raising hopes for a force that could for the first time provide real protection to civilians in one of the world’s most embattled regions.

If fully deployed, the troops would be the largest U.N. peacekeeping operation and, under the resolution passed Tuesday, would be under orders to prevent attacks against civilians.

Attack helicopters expected to be sent in would give the troops a major edge in moving quickly across the large territory in central Africa to stop attacks by Arab janjaweed militias on villages.

“The Sudanese government is committed to implementing its part of the resolution,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol told reporters Wednesday.

Four years of warfare in Darfur has killed more than 200,000 people and driven some 2.5 million others from their homes. The conflict began when ethnic African rebels launched an insurgency, complaining of discrimination by the Arab government in Khartoum. The government is accused of responding by unleashing the janjaweed, a militia blamed for widespread killings, rapes and other atrocities against ethnic African civilians. Khartoum denies the claims.


Museum will return artifacts to Italy

Italy announced a deal Wednesday that requires the J. Paul Getty Museum to return 40 artifacts, including a famed statue of the goddess Aphrodite. It was the latest victory in Italy’s efforts to recover antiquities it says were looted from the country and sold to museums worldwide.

Italy and the Getty also agreed on widespread cultural cooperation, which will include loans of other treasures to the Los Angeles museum, the Culture Ministry said in a statement.

The Getty has denied knowingly buying illegally obtained objects.

Most of the artifacts will be returned within the next few months, according to a calendar drawn up by experts from both sides.

The agreement includes one of the most prized works in dispute, a 5th century B.C. statue of the goddess Aphrodite, which will remain on display at the Getty until 2010, the ministry said. Italian authorities believe the 7-foot statue, bought by the Getty for $18 million in 1988, was looted from an ancient Greek settlement in Sicily.


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