In brief: Pope says health is fine, lightens schedule
Vatican City – Pope Francis had a busy morning of audiences Saturday amid new health concerns following his cancellation of a planned outing.
The 77-year-old Francis seemed tired but smiled frequently during a shorter-than-usual, 10-minute private audience Saturday with the president of Madagascar. But the pope delivered a speech without problem to a visiting Orthodox delegation, and he had two other meetings with Vatican cardinals.
At the last minute, Francis skipped a visit Friday to a Rome hospital, the third time this month he has canceled or scaled back an event because of fatigue or illness.
The Vatican said he had suffered an “unexpected indisposition,” but there were no concerns for his health. Francis has only one full lung, has a bad back and was down with an intestinal problem earlier this month.
Fighting in Ukraine undermines cease-fire
Moscow – A 72-hour extension of the cease-fire agreed to by Ukrainian government forces and separatist fighters was undermined Saturday by fresh outbreaks of violence.
The military said one soldier was killed in clashes near the rebel stronghold of Sloviansk.
There were reports of deaths and injuries among the separatists fighting government troops in the Luhansk region, while rebels said there was also military action in the city of Kramatorsk.
In a bid to end two months of fighting, President Petro Poroshenko’s office and representatives of the pro-Russian rebels had announced early Saturday that the weeklong cease-fire that had been set to end Friday was extended until Monday.
The cease-fire is the first step in a 15-point peace plan outlined by Poroshenko last week.
Crews trapped by collapsed buildings
New Delhi – Rescuers using gas cutters and shovels were searching in construction rubble today for more than a dozen workers feared trapped in the second of two building collapses in India that together have killed at least 16 people.
The 12-story structure the workers were building collapsed late Saturday while heavy rains were pounding the outskirts of Chennai, the capital of southern Tamil Nadu state. Police said 26 construction workers had been pulled out so far and the search was continuing for more than a dozen others.
Two of the workers died on the spot and another three succumbed to injuries later in a hospital.
Nearly 300 policemen and fire service workers worked overnight, scouring the debris for survivors.
Earlier Saturday, a four-story, 50-year-old structure toppled in an area of New Delhi inhabited by the poor. At least 11 people died and one survivor was being treated in a hospital.