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Coca production rises for third year

Despite record drug eradication efforts, a White House survey found production of coca in Colombia rose for the third consecutive year in 2006, President Alvaro Uribe said.

Uribe, who travels to Washington on Wednesday to secure the continued flow of U.S. anti-drug aid, revealed the findings of the still-unreleased report Friday. A transcript was posted Sunday on the president’s Web site.

Uribe said the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy survey, which is based on satellite imagery, found that production rose 8 percent last year, to 385,484 acres – an area twice the size of New York City.

Lusaka, Zambia

12 soccer fans crushed after game

At least 12 soccer fans were crushed to death as a crowd rushed from the stadium after Zambia’s victory in an African Cup qualifier, official media said Sunday.

Fans were in a hurry to leave because the match against Republic of Congo, which Zambia won 3-0, started an hour late – the Sudanese referee arrived only three hours before kickoff, the state-owned Sunday Times reported.

The newspaper said three women and nine men were killed, all of them Zambian team supporters, and five fans were hospitalized after the accident Saturday at Konkola Stadium in the northern town of Chililabombwe in Zambia’s Copperbelt province.


TV images show energetic Castro

Talking at length, grinning for cameras and even cracking jokes, Fidel Castro looked stronger and more vibrant Sunday as the first TV images of the ailing Cuban leader in four months appeared to confirm official reports he is feeling better.

The two-and-a-half-minute clip appears to show Castro in the same red track suit with black and white trim that he wore in past official images. At times, the 80-year-old shakes his fist and waggles a finger for effect while talking to Vietnamese Communist Party chief Nong Duc Manh, who met with him on Saturday.

The pair are later shown smiling and embracing warmly. An upbeat Castro even draws laughs when he compliments a translator on how well he speaks Vietnamese and Spanish.

“Vietnam is a country that we will never forget,” Castro says.

Freetown, Sierra Leone

Helicopter crash kills at least 20

A helicopter ferrying passengers to Sierra Leone’s main airport crashed late Sunday, bursting into flames and killing at least 20 people, local radio stations and a witness at the airport said.

One station, Kalleone FM, said 22 people died, including a pilot who jumped from the helicopter as it crashed at the airport. A witness at the airport, who asked not to be identified, confirmed the crash and said its two pilots jumped out. One survived and was hospitalized.

The witness said the helicopter burst into flames upon crashing. It was destroyed before airport firefighters could put out the flames.

Helicopters and a sea ferry are the only ways to get to the airport, located across a bay from the capital, Freetown, which is on the Atlantic Ocean.

From wire reports


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