World

Food, tents, doctors, rescue crews, and helicopters were being rushed to Pakistan in the wake of Saturday's magnitude-7.6 earthquake, the worst to hit South Asia in a century. The number of confirmed deaths in Pakistan alone already was in excess of 20,000, and authorities said it appeared almost certain to rise. Another 2,000 were believed to have died in India. An estimate from Afghanistan wasn't immediately available, but the quake reportedly caused significant damage there. As many as 4 million people in the region could be homeless, aid agencies estimated.

Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish negotiators appeared far apart in efforts to make late changes to Iraq's proposed new constitution before Saturday's national referendum. Sunni leaders are urging rejection, and a two-thirds "no" vote in any three provinces will ensure that outcome. More than 15 million of Iraq's 27 million people are registered to vote in the referendum. Meanwhile, the number of people killed in the last two weeks rose to 332 as terrorists worked to derail the vote.

Another postponement of the summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was announced, and aides to the latter said it won't be rescheduled until at least the end of the month. They'd been due to meet Tuesday, but preparatory negotiations between their representatives failed to resolve differences over the release of more Palestinians from Israeli jails and a pullback of defense forces from cities in the West Bank.

Conservative leader Angela Merkel emerged as Germany's first woman chancellor after negotiations produced a power-sharing deal with the Social Democratic Party of Gerhard Schröder, whom she'll succeed. She said the priorities of their "grand coalition" government would be reversing Germany's high unemployment rate and restoring good relations with the US that were weakened under Schröder. The deal calls for the Social Democrats to head such key ministries as foreign affairs, finance, and justice.

Entire communities will be abandoned and declared cemeteries, officials in Guatemala said, a week after hurricane Stan wreaked havoc there and elsewhere in Central American countries. At least 778 deaths were confirmed, and hundreds of other people were still missing. More than 100 towns and villages in Guatemala alone remained cut off from all but helicopter access because of flooding and mudslides.

A runoff election for president in Poland was scheduled for Oct. 23 after Sunday's voting failed to give any of the 12 candidates an absolute majority. The second round will be between two conservative veterans of the Solidarity anticommunist movement, Deputy Speaker of parliament Donald Tusk and Warsaw Mayor Lech Kaczynski. Tusk won 36.3 percent of the ballots; Kaczynski 33.1 percent.

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