World

The UN appealed for $272 million more in donations for survivors of South Asia's worst earthquake in a century as the government of Pakistan raised the official number of deaths from it to 23,000. An Army officer close to the rescue effort, however, said that figure would rise to as high as 40,000. The rescue effort Tuesday was being complicated by heavy rain and hail, grounding helicopter flights. In disputed Kashmir, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh toured the affected area and called the situation "a national calamity." Meanwhile, an alliance of Kashmiri militants fighting Indian rule declared a unilateral truce and called on followers to join relief activities.

Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish negotiators tried again Tuesday to find common ground on disputed points in Iraq's proposed constitution that would ensure its passage in Saturday's national referendum. A spokes-man for President Jalal Talabani said "it's possible that agreement already has been reached on two points." He didn't elaborate. As the negotiators met, millions of copies of the draft charter were being distributed to Iraqis, and any late changes would have to be disseminated via the news media, the spokesman said.

Two astronauts are to be launched into orbit Wednesday from the Gobi Desert in China's second attempt at manned space flight. If successful, their mission could last up to five days, the state news agency said. It is considered riskier than the first space flight in 2003, which lasted 21-1/2 hours. Once aloft, the astronauts are to conduct unspecified experiments and to remove their spacesuits for ease in moving between the halves of their capsule, reports said.

Another planeload of immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa was sent home by Morocco's government Tuesday, the third such flight in two days. More planes were expected to take off later for Mali, leaving more than 1,200 people still in temporary camps after their attempts to penetrate barbed-wire fences separating Morocco from two Spanish enclaves. A senior Moroccan official complained that his government was in a "no-win situation" - criticized for not doing enough to stem the tide of Africans desperate to seek jobs in wealthy European Union nations and then for using force to deport them.

The search for further survivors of the landslide triggered by hurricane Stan in Guatemala was called off, meaning that up to 1,400 people will remain trapped under thick mud. Officially, 652 Guatemalans are listed as dead in the stricken area, but as many as 2,000 others are missing.

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