April 17, 2012 in Nation/World

In brief: 6.7 earthquake rattles Chile

From Wire Reports
 

SANTIAGO, Chile – A strong magnitude-6.7 earthquake shook central Chile late Monday, prompting authorities to order a precautionary evacuation of a stretch of coastline and causing hundreds in the capital to flee buildings in panic.

There were no immediate reports of damage or deaths, but the quake was felt for almost a minute in the port city of Valparaiso and in the capital, Santiago.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake’s epicenter was 26 miles northeast of Valparaiso, and it had a depth of 23 miles. It struck just minutes before midnight local time Monday.

Ban calls for access for Syria observers

BEIRUT – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday the Syrian government is responsible for guaranteeing U.N. observers full freedom of movement to monitor the country’s tenuous cease-fire, which appeared to be unraveling as regime forces pounded the opposition stronghold of Homs, activists said.

Even though overall violence in Syria has dropped significantly since the truce took effect Thursday, the government’s shelling of the central city of Homs over the past four days has raised doubts about President Bashar Assad’s commitment to special envoy Kofi Annan’s plan to end 13 months of violence and launch talks on the country’s political future.

An advance team of six observers arrived in Damascus late Sunday to negotiate the mission’s ground rules with Syrian authorities.

Ban, speaking to reporters in Brussels, called on Assad to ensure the observers’ work is not hindered.

The U.N. plans to increase the advance team to 30 people, all of them unarmed, Ban said, adding that the Security Council is expected to authorize a formal monitoring team of about 250 people later this week.


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