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AROUND THE WORLD

Palestinians' U.N. bid to get Arab panel's aid

TEL AVIV -- The Arab League will appoint a panel to devise a new strategy if the United Nations Security Council rejects the Palestinian bid for full membership in the international body.

Arab foreign ministers, meeting Sunday in Doha, Qatar, said in a statement that the committee of experts will discuss "all legal and political alternatives" should the Palestinian effort -- which is opposed by the United States and Israel -- be rebuffed.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas applied to the Security Council on Sept. 23 to make Palestine the 194th member of the United Nations. The United States says Palestinians should return to the negotiating table with Israel and reach a peace agreement before U.N. membership is granted.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said in Doha that the authority may consider asking the U.N. General Assembly to upgrade its nonmember observer status should the bid for full membership through the Security Council fail. Even if the Palestinians win the vote, the United States has veto power in the council.

-- Bloomberg News

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Six survive as 29 die in coal mine explosion

BEIJING (AP) -- A gas explosion at a coal mine in central China has killed 29 workers, Chinese authorities said Sunday.

Six other miners survived Saturday evening's blast at a state-owned coal mine in Hengyang, Hunan province, China's State Administration of Work Safety said in a statement on its website.

Five of the workers were rescued, while one climbed out of an air shaft of the Xialiuchong Coal Mine, the statement said.

Song Yuanming, chief of the provincial coal mine safety bureau, told state broadcaster CCTV that there was a large burst of gas 820 feet underground in the mine that was ignited by sparks produced by machines.

CCTV said that the mine's operating license had been revoked in the first half of this year because it did not adopt measures to pump out dangerous gases from underground but that the mine continued production without permission.

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Two dead, 30 missing as footbridge collapses

GAUHATI, India (AP) -- Army divers joined police and paramilitary forces Sunday searching for victims who fell about 40 feet into a remote river when a loaded footbridge collapsed.

Townspeople had crowded onto the bridge to cross into a forest at dusk Saturday to hunt for a seasonal insect, a teri, which is eaten as a delicacy in the remote northeast area.

Two bodies have been recovered, but 30 other people were feared drowned, mostly women and children, senior police officer Kyle Aya said.

Rescue efforts were being hindered by the fact that the Kameng River is rocky, with a swift current in the area.

About 30 people had been rescued soon after the bridge collapsed.

The bridge in the town of Seppa is 40 feet above the river, according to the Hindustan Times.

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