In brief: Death toll rises in typhoon to 350; nearly 400 missing
New Bataan, Philippines – A powerful typhoon that washed away emergency shelters, a military camp and possibly entire families in the southern Philippines has killed almost 350 people with nearly 400 missing, authorities said today.
At least 200 of the victims died in Compostela Valley alone, including 78 villagers and soldiers who perished in a flash flood that swamped two emergency shelters and a military camp.
“Entire families may have been washed away,” said Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, who visited New Bataan on Wednesday.
Israel submits plans to build highly criticized housing
Jerusalem – Israel took another step Wednesday toward developing a highly sensitive plot of West Bank land, submitting construction plans for nearly 3,400 units of new Jewish housing on the outskirts of Jerusalem.
The project, known as E-1, has drawn fierce criticism from the United States, United Nations and European nations. They fear it might severely cripple efforts to create a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.
The development plans were submitted Wednesday by the Civil Administration. The public has two months to voice objections before final approval could be granted.
Crime prompts Norway to close Venezuela embassy
Caracas, Venezuela – Norway will close its embassy in Venezuela because of rampant crime in the South American country and move the diplomatic mission to neighboring Colombia, its ambassador said Wednesday.
Norwegian ambassador Lars Vaagen said the decision to move the embassy to Bogota next year was made after analyzing the problem of violent crime in Venezuela.
The government of President Hugo Chavez estimates that more than 14,000 people were killed in Venezuela last year. That gave the country a homicide rate of 50 per 100,000 people and made it one of the most violent countries in Latin America and the world.
Over the last year, diplomats from Mexico and Chile were kidnapped, and all were eventually freed after ordeals lasting from two hours to more than a day. The abductions of diplomats influenced Norway’s decision to move its embassy, Vaagen said.