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In brief: Dozens killed by avalanches

Kabul, Afghanistan – A series of avalanches engulfed a mountain pass in Afghanistan, trapping hundreds of people in their buried cars and killing as many as 64 people so far, authorities said Tuesday.

Rescuers brought in bulldozers, ambulances and helicopters in a massive effort to reach victims stuck in the snow along the 12,700-feet-high Salang Pass, which links the Afghan capital Kabul with the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

The avalanches struck Monday.

Vice president to run country

Abuja, Nigeria – Nigeria’s parliament empowered Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to run Africa’s most populous nation Tuesday in place of an ill and absent president, striving for a political end to a crisis that ground the government to a virtual halt.

But the move is not contemplated in the constitution, legal experts say, and could cause more friction between the Christian south, which gains the presidency at least temporarily, and Muslim north.

President Umaru Yar’Adua left Nigeria for Saudi Arabia on Nov. 23. Yar’Adua’s physician has said the 58-year-old, who long has suffered from kidney ailments, is being treated for acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart.

Abuse victims send plea to pope

Dublin, Ireland – Prominent Irish victims of Catholic sexual abuse have written to Pope Benedict XVI asking him to take responsibility for the church’s concealment of child molestation by forcing out bishops implicated in the decades of cover-up.

Their plea, published Tuesday, comes one week before a special Vatican summit involving the pontiff and Ireland’s bishops to craft a response to mammoth abuse cover-up scandals in the Irish church.

Three bishops have already tendered their resignations after a government-authorized investigation published in November found that Dublin Archdiocese authorities habitually concealed evidence of pedophile priests from civil authorities for decades.


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