Locked exits blamed in fire deaths at club in Argentina
Among other items: Colombia extradited a top leftist rebel to the United States yesterday to face drug-smuggling and terrorism charges; tens of thousands of Palestinians pledged support to front-running Palestinian Authority presidential candidate Mahmoud Abbas yesterday; and Sudanese government and rebel officials signed a permanent cease-fire deal yesterday.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Emergency exits at a nightclub packed with teenagers were padlocked or wired shut when a flare ignited the foam ceiling, sparking a blaze that killed 175 people and injured more than 700 in one of Argentina's worst disasters, survivors and officials said yesterday.
Some 4,000 fans at a Thursday night concert by the band Los Callejeros fought to reach the exits as burning debris fell on them. But they found at least four escape routes locked in an apparent effort to prevent people from entering the club without paying, Buenos Aires Mayor Anibal Ibarra said.
"Had they been open, we surely would have avoided a lot of deaths," Ibarra said, calling the locked doors at the Republica de la Cromagnon disco an "irresponsible act."
The concert crowd also was nearly three times the venue's capacity of 1,500 people, Argentine media reported. The club's owner, Omar Chaban, was detained yesterday for questioning.
Investigators think the fire was caused by a flare lit during the concert. Rock-concert fans in Argentina frequently set off flares and fireworks.
Extradition to U.S. of leftist rebel a first
Colombia extradited a top leftist rebel to the United States yesterday to face drug-smuggling and terrorism charges, an unprecedented move that followed his group's refusal to free dozens of hostages, including three Americans.
Ricardo Palmera, wearing handcuffs and a bulletproof vest, became the first leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, to be sent for trial in a U.S. federal court — prompting fears of reprisal attacks.
President Álvaro Uribe earlier this month issued an ultimatum, giving the FARC until Thursday to free 63 hostages or see Palmera extradited. The list included politicians, government troops and three U.S. Defense Department contractors. The group insists it will only free the hostages in exchange for 500 jailed rebels, a move Uribe has all but ruled out.
A former banker from a wealthy northern family who says he took up arms to fight social injustice, Palmera is one of the best-known members of the FARC, which, along with a smaller leftist rebel group, has battled for 40 years to topple the government. The conflict kills more than 3,000 people every year.
Gaza City, Gaza Strip
Thousands support Palestinian candidate
Tens of thousands of Palestinians pledged support to front-running Palestinian Authority presidential candidate Mahmoud Abbas yesterday as he made his first visit to Gaza since the start of a campaign to succeed Yasser Arafat, who died Nov. 11.
Repeating known stances of the late president, whom he called a "martyr," Abbas called on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners and quit occupied land. He vowed Palestinians would establish a state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Supporters waved Palestinian flags and posters of Abbas and Arafat as gunmen from the Fatah-linked al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades fired rifles in the air in celebration. But a spokesman for the militant group Hamas, which is sworn to Israel's destruction and plans to boycott the vote, criticized Abbas for wanting to end violence against Israelis.
Saeed Abad, Pakistan
Wedding celebrants killed in collision
A bus packed with passengers returning from a wedding caught fire yesterday after colliding with a truck carrying flammable liquid in southern Pakistan, killing at least 31 people.
As many as 16 of the dead belonged to two Karachi families who were returning to their city after a wedding, police said. The dead included 13 children and nine women.
Sudan, rebels sign cease-fire deal
Sudanese government and rebel officials signed a permanent cease-fire deal yesterday and endorsed details on how to implement their peace plan to end a 21-year civil war in southern Sudan, a conflict blamed for 2 million deaths.
Sudan's two-decade civil war pitted the Khartoum government, led by Arab Muslims who dominated the north, against rebels made up mainly of Christians and animists, who are the majority in the south.
In Khartoum, thousands of southern Sudanese took to the streets, singing through loudspeakers and waving the rebels' green, black, red, white and blue flag with a golden star, which appeared for the first time on the streets of Sudan's tightly controlled capital.
United Nations and U.S. officials hope a solution to the civil war in the south will spur an end to the separate conflict between government-backed forces and rebels in the western Darfur region, where disease and hunger have killed 70,000 since March.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.