CHINA'S LARGEST NUCLEAR PLANT OPENS Premier Li Peng officially opened China's largest nuclear plant yesterday, a project that has raised concerns in the British colony of Hong Kong just 30 miles away. It is the first of two 900-megawatt reactors at the Daya Bay plant in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen. A second reactor is scheduled to come on line at Daya Bay in the middle of the year. The Chinese government views developing its nuclear power industry as vital to meeting the energy needs of a fast-growing economy. State media have reported an ambitious official plan to have nuclear energy provide 5 percent of electric power in the year 2020. Daya Bay has long been the focus of heated protest by Hong Kong groups concerned over the possibility of a nuclear accident. Indonesian volcano erupts

Rain-triggered flows of volcanic debris inundated wide areas around Mount Semeru in East Java yesterday, trapping thousands of villagers after an eruption that reportedly killed seven people. More than 2,000 villagers were able to flee the lava and debris, officials said. Heavy rain Saturday night caused the volcanic debris to flow into Sumberurip, a village on the southern slope of the 9,877-foot volcano, the highest peak in Java. Other villages were also reportedly inundated. As of yesterday, the volcano had spewed out at least 7.6 million cubic meters of lava and has been erupting since Thursday, belching molten rock and ash onto villages on its slopes. Quake rocks Uganda

An earthquake shook western Uganda early yesterday. The private Capital Radio said the quake measured 6.2 on the Richter scale and hit Fort Portal, a town 194 miles west of Uganda's capital, Kampala. Residents of Kampala reported three tremors, each lasting about six minutes. The Richter scale is a gauge of the energy released by an earthquake measured by ground vibrations. An earthquake measuring 6.2 generally causes severe damage around the epicenter. Beckwith convicted

Byron De La Beckwith was convicted Saturday of murdering civil rights leader Medgar Evers in 1963. He was immediately sentenced to life in prison. Mr. Beckwith, who escaped conviction by two all-white juries in 1964, was convicted in Jackson, Miss., by a jury of eight blacks and four whites. The verdict brought a close to one of the longest and most painful sagas of the 1960s civil rights movement. Beckwith would ordinarily be eligible for parole in 10 years, but might be eligible earlier because of about 1 1/2 years he has already spent in jail, District Attorney Ed Peters said. Beckwith's lawyers are expected to appeal. Boston Herald sold

Ten years after taking over as publisher, Patrick Purcell announced he had purchased the Boston Herald from Rupert Murdoch's News America Publishing Inc. for an undisclosed price. Purcell said Friday there would be no changes in the editorial policies of the newspaper. Purcell, who will assume ownership on Feb. 14, said his purchase was backed by the Bank of Boston. Mr. Purcell, who also has been publisher of the Murdoch-owned New York Post, said he would relinquish that position. He said the date of the changeover and the name of his successor at the Post would be announced next week. The sale means new ownership for two major newspapers in Boston in the past year. The New York Times acquired the Boston Globe last October. New Orleans mayoral runoff

Attorney Donald Mintz overcame the election-eve indictment of an aide and finished first Saturday in the city's nasty mayoral race. He will face second-place finisher Marc Morial in a runoff March 5. Unofficial returns showed Mintz with 56,296 votes or 37 percent. Morial had 49,530 votes or 32 percent. Mintz is a former port authority chairman; Morial is son of the city's first black mayor, Dutch Morial. A runoff is necessary because neither men got more than 50 percent of the vote. Eight other candidates also sought to replace Mayor Sidney Barthelemy, who is barred by law from seeking a third four-year term.

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