News In Brief

An italian tanker spilled oil in picturesque Sydney Harbor, causing Australia's worst

environmental disaster in 10 to 20 years. The Laura D'Amato tanker was discharging at a Shell Australia refinery west of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, when an open valve leaked more than 17,000 gallons of crude. The stench from the spill was so pungent that a performance of "La Bohme" at the nearby Sydney Opera House was stopped.

Days after Congolese Liberation Movement Leader Jean-Pierre Bemba signed a peace agreement with President Laurent Kabila, the Congolese government reportedly killed 500 people in an air raid. Referring to what could be the worst single attack since the start of a year-long civil war, Bemba said he was "shocked" and that "Kabila has broken the cease-fire." No independent confirmation of the report was available as the Monitor went to press.

China refused to allow a US military plane to land in Hong Kong, despite last week's lifting of a temporary ban against US aircraft. Until the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia this spring, US military visits to Hong Kong had continued uninterrupted, following the British handover of the province to China in July, 1997. Eight US Navy ships have been barred from entering Hong Kong since the bombing.

Israeli soldiers barred Palestinians from entering the Israeli-controlled section of Hebron in the West Bank after two Jewish settlers were shot in the area Tuesday - the first outbreak of such violence since Ehud Barak assumed the Israeli presidency last month. Although Israel returned 80 percent of the city to the Palestinians in 1997, Israeli soldiers still patrol the area.

Extensive flooding continued in many areas of Asia, causing the most extensive damage in North Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, and China. After relentless rains triggered a massive landslide in the Philippines late Tuesday, four people were reported dead and 26 injured, bringing the death toll in the incident to 38. At least 63 are dead or missing in South Korea. Above, Thai Buddhist monks clean up after flooding hit their Chanthaburi province monastery, 130 miles southeast of Bangkok.

After waiting for over two months, Indonesia finally learned the results of its June 7 parliamentary elections. President B.J. Habibie announced that his Golkar party, which has ruled the nation for 32 years, came in second - with only 22 percent of the vote. The Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle of populist Megawati Sukarnoputri won the election with 34 percent.

The 19-nation NATO alliance named British Defense Secretary George Robertson its next secretary general, replacing Spain's Javier Solana. At a meeting in Brussels, the group also outlined the challenges it faces in the aftermath of the Kosovo conflict.

UN officials extended the voter-registration deadline for the Aug. 30 autonomy vote in East Timor. Speaking from Dil, UN envoy Ian Martin said that yesterday's deadline had been prolonged to allow 50,000 displaced people and hundreds of rebel soldiers to sign up.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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