World in brief: Monsoons’ toll tops 2,000 deaths
The death toll from this year’s calamitous South Asian monsoons had surpassed 2,000 by Friday, after a wild storm hit Pakistan’s largest city. India asked doctors to cancel vacations and rushed food and medicine to flooded regions where disease has stricken thousands.
Adding to the misery, the monsoon rains that flood wide stretches of South Asia each year have forced creatures large and small onto whatever dry land can be found, resulting in scores of fatal snakebites.
Relief workers said there was an acute shortage of clean drinking water and medical supplies in parts of northern India, where storms have been heavier than usual this year.
With flooding from two weeks of rains finally receding in northern India, monsoon storms moved west. Heavy winds and rains lashed the Pakistani city of Karachi, destroyed homes and flooding streets. At least 22 bodies were pulled from collapsed homes, said Anwar Kazi, a spokesman for the private relief service Edhi Foundation. Residents waded through waist-deep water in parts of the city of 15 million people.
Taliban, S. Koreans meet over hostages
Two top Taliban leaders and four South Korean officials met face-to-face Friday in the first day of negotiations over the fate of 21 members of a church group held hostage for three weeks, Afghan officials said.
Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said two members of the top militant council – Mullah Bashir and Mullah Nasorullah – traveled to the central Afghan city of Ghazni, near where the South Koreans were kidnapped on July 19. He said the government in Kabul gave the Taliban a written guarantee that the two officials would be safe.
Ahmadi said the Taliban would not kill any of the 21 remaining South Korean hostages until the face-to-face meetings have been completed. Two men among the 23 South Koreans originally kidnapped have already been killed.