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Sunday, November 27

Editor's Note: CNN News Update is a running log of the latest news from CNN World Headquarters, reported by CNN's correspondents, producers and Wires.CNN editors.

Mine blast kills 68, traps 79 in northeast China

BEIJING (CNN) -- A coal mine explosion in northeast China has killed at least 68 miners and left another 79 trapped underground, according to the official China news service Xinhua.

An estimated 221 miners were inside the mine in Heilongjiang Province when the explosion happened Sunday evening, Xinhua reported.

About 40 of the miners were able to escape just after the blast, the report said.

Rescuers pulled another 34 miners out alive, while the bodies of another dead 68 miners have been recovered from the mine, Xinhua reported.

U.S. congressmen escape Iraq road accident without serious injuries

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Medical tests showed injuries suffered by two U.S. congressmen in an armored vehicle wreck in Iraq Saturday were not serious, according to one of the congressmen.

A delegation of three members of Congress were riding in a U.S. military convoy Saturday night when the armored bus in which they were riding left the roadway, according to Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Penn.

"It appeared that a vehicle may have run us off the road," Rep. Murphy said. "We're assuming it was unintentional."

"We went off and the next thing you know we hit something pretty hard and flipped into the air a little bit," Murphy said.

Murphy and Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., were flown by helicopter to a combat hospital in Baghdad where doctors decided to send Murphy on to a U.S. military hospital in Germany where an MRI could be performed on his injured neck, Murphy said.

"The MRI said that the injuries were not as bad as first thought," Murphy said.

Rep. Skelton, the highest ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, was treated and released from the Baghdad hospital and was flown to Germany on Sunday, Murphy said.

Another congressmen - Georgia Democrat Jim Marshall - was uninjured in the crash, Murphy said. (Posted 9:30 p.m.)

CHP: Driver fatigue likely contributed to fatal bus crash

SANTA MARIA, Calif. (CNN) -- Driver fatigue likely contributed to the crash of a Greyhound bus in Santa Maria Sunday morning that left two people dead, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol said.

"There's a strong possibility that the driver fell asleep and ran off the road," said CHP Cmdr. Dan Minor at a news conference in Santa Maria, about 60 miles northwest of Santa Barbara.

The bus, carrying 43 passengers, was on its way from Los Angeles to San Francisco when it drifted off the right side of Highway 101, went down a 10-15 foot embankment and skidded about 100 yards, finally coming to rest on its side against a eucalyptus tree, said Capt. Keith Cullom of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

One of the dead was 23-year-old Martha Contreras, who was seven months pregnant, Minor said. Her fetus also died. Minor predicted that the death of the fetus would eventually be counted in the death toll. The other fatality was Faro Jahani, a 50-year-old man, Minor said. (Posted 7:32 p.m.)

Bush to focus on border security and immigration

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- After spending the holiday weekend with family at his Crawford ranch, President Bush will make stops in Arizona and Texas this week to address an issue that has divided some members of his own Republican party -- illegal immigration.

The president will visit Tuscon, Ariz. on Monday, and El Paso, Texas on Tuesday. A senior administration official said the president will focus on three areas in a speech on immigration: border security, enforcement and a temporary worker program.

The official said the president will talk about "additional resources and the use of technology to secure the border," and will discuss it in terms of national security and the economy.

Interior enforcement is another issue Bush is expected to raise. The official said that includes "interior repatriation," or returning illegal immigrants from Mexico to the interior of the country instead of just to the other side of the border.

A third component, according to the official, will be the president's proposal for a temporary worker program that would allow illegal immigrants to obtain legal status. (Posted 7:30 p.m.)

Four Western aid workers kidnapped in Iraq

(CNN) -- Four Western aid workers in Iraq, including two from Canada and one from Britain, have been kidnapped, according to British and Canadian government officials.

Dan McTeague, the parliamentary secretary for Canadians abroad, said the four were kidnapped Saturday, but he would not identify the agency with which they are affiliated.

McTeague said the government is working to find out more about the circumstances surrounding the incident.

He said the government won't negotiate with kidnappers.

The British Foreign Office confirmed that a British citizen, identified as Norman Kember, was one of those abducted. (Posted 7:26 p.m.)

Two dead, interstate closed after passenger van overturns north of Phoenix

(CNN) -- Two people died and four others were seriously injured when a passenger van rolled over on Interstate 17 north of Phoenix Sunday afternoon, closing the highway for several hours, according to an Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman.

A section of I-17 near the Carefree Highway exit, about 25 miles north of Phoenix, was expected to be closed for three or four hours as state police investigated the fatal crash, DPS Duty Officer Delgado said.

The van, with nine people inside, was northbound when the driver lost control and rolled over, ejecting six passengers, Delgado said. Two of the passengers were killed and four others were airlifted to Phoenix hospitals, he said. (Posted 7:24 p.m.)

At least 10 dead in magnitude 5.9 quake in southern Iran

(CNN) -- A magnitude 5.9 earthquake rattled the southern tip of Iran on the Persian Gulf on Sunday afternoon, killing at least 10 people, injuring dozens and damaging five villages on Qeshm Island, according to officials.

A landslide followed the quake, according to island governor Heidar Alishvandi.

The island, with a population of about 120,000 people, consists primarily of villages with a majority of mud-and-brick buildings that may not be quake-resistant.

Intensive search and rescue operations have begun, with helicopters and military personnel deployed, officials said on state-run TV. (Posted 7:19 p.m.)

EU delivers letter to Iran over renewal of nuclear talks

MADRID (CNN) -- The European Union delivered a letter Sunday to Iran offering to possibly renew talks with the Islamic republic over its disputed nuclear program, an EU spokeswoman told CNN.

The EU-Iranian talks faltered last August after two years of negotiations. On Nov. 6, Iran made overtures to the EU to renew the talks and the action Sunday is in response to that, with the EU offering to "explore if there's enough common ground to renew the nuclear program talks," said the spokeswoman, an aide to EU foreign policy head Javier Solana.

The letter was sent on behalf of Solana and of the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany -- the so-called "EU 3" -- who previously had been involved in the talks.

The EU's letter Sunday was the result of internal EU discussions in recent days, and it was announced at the outset of the Euromediterranean Summit in Barcelona. (Posted 2:50 p.m.)

Poll: Americans favor abortion restrictions but oppose amendment to ban the practice

(CNN) -- Roughly two-thirds of the people questioned in a recent poll on abortion supported parental and spousal notification, but opposed a constitutional amendment to ban the practice altogether.

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted Nov. 11-13 found that 69 percent of the 1,006 adults questioned were in favor of requiring minors to get parental consent to have an abortion, while 28 percent opposed that step.

Sixty-four percent believe that wives should inform their husbands before getting an abortion, but 34 percent were against such a rule. Despite the support for restrictions, 61 percent of those questioned were opposed to a constitutional amendment to ban abortion outright.

Thirty-seven percent were in favor of an amendment to ban abortions in all circumstances, except when the life of the mother was at stake. More than three-fourths of the respondents believe that abortion should be legal in varying circumstances. (Posted 1:25 p.m.)

2 dead after Greyhound bus overturns in California

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Two people were killed Sunday when a Greyhound bus carrying 44 people overturned on a highway in Santa Maria, authorities said.

Kent Boisen of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department said 11 other people were injured, seven of them seriously. Among the four less seriously injured was the driver of the bus. Boisen said the bus overturned around 7 a.m. (10 a.m. ET) on Highway 101 about 60 miles northwest of Santa Barbara.

Helicopters landed on the freeway to transport the injured to Marion Hospital in Santa Maria and Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, he said. The cause of the accident is not yet known, Boisen said. (Posted 11:55 a.m.)

Military operation in Ramadi nets weapons caches, insurgent suspects

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- U.S. and Iraqi troops staging the latest military operation in the Ramadi area have seized a number of weapons caches and detained several suspected insurgents, the Marines said Sunday.

Operation Tigers, kicked off in eastern Ramadi on Saturday, is designed to establish stability in the capital of the restive Anbar province ahead of the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections.

"The caches found consisted of numerous artillery and mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades, high explosives, small arms weapons, small arms ammunition, bulletproof vests and bomb making equipment," the Marines said in a news release.

One of the insurgent suspects detained is Imad Salih Al-Fahdawi, linked to an al Qaeda in Iraq cell, the Marines said. The Marines say "Salih was involved in attacks against government officials and imams." (Posted 10 a.m.)

Ayad Allawi compares abuses in Iraqi government to those under Saddam Hussein

LONDON (CNN) -- Ayad Allawi, the man who served as Iraq's first prime minister after the Saddam Hussein regime was ousted, compared the human rights abuses in the new Iraqi government to those under the Saddam Hussein regime.

Allawi -- a secular Shiite who has been very critical of sectarian posturing and strict religious influence -- made these comments in the Observer newspaper less than three weeks away from the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections and just before the trial of Saddam Hussein resumes Monday.

"People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things," Allawi told the Observer, based in London. (Posted 8:15 a.m.)

Roadside bomb kills Marine during combat

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- A roadside bomb killed a Marine on Saturday "in the vicinity of Camp Taqaddum" west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Sunday.

The Marine was assigned to the "2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). The incident took place during combat.

This brings the number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war to 2,107. (Posted 7:25 a.m.)

Water service resumes in Harbin; China issues apology to Russia

BEIJING (CNN) -- Water service resumed six hours ahead of schedule Sunday in the city of Harbin -- which has spent four days without running water because of a toxic benzene spill in the Songhua River, its main source of water -- as China's government issued a rare apology to Russian officials for the pollution, which should reach the border city of Khabarosk, Russia, within days.

Local officials had promised millions of Harbin residents that water service will resume by midnight on Sunday, but service resumed at 6 p.m., the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. Zhang Zuoji, the governor of Heilongjiang province, took the first drink -- which he had pledged to do earlier in the week.

Water quality at Sifangtai, a water source site in the upper reach of the Harbin section of the river, met national standards beginning at 8 p.m. Saturday, Xinhua reported, and the main site of pollution in the river had left the Harbin section as of Sunday morning, environmental authorities said. The 100-ton benzene spill resulted from a Nov. 13 explosion at a petrochemical plant, which also killed five people and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands. Used in gasoline, benzene is a cancer-causing substance. (Updated 5:49 a.m.)

Former U.S. Attorney General to assist defense in Hussein trial

BAGHDAD (CNN) -- Civil rights attorney, activist and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark was in Baghdad on Sunday, planning to work as a consultant and legal adviser to attorneys representing eight defendants, including former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, according to one of the defense attorneys.

Defense attorneys plan to meet with Clark Sunday night or Monday morning, said Khames Hameed al-Ubaidi. They want Clark to join their defense team and be in the courtroom; if that request is blocked, they want to use him as an adviser, he said.

Hussein and seven other defendants are accused in connection with the 1982 killings of more than 140 males in the town of Dujail after a failed assassination attempt on Hussein.

When the trial resumes Monday, attorneys will be seeking a three-month delay of the trial, al-Ubaidi said. The trial began on Oct. 19 but has postponed for 40 days to give the defense more time to prepare. The reason for the request, al-Ubaidi said, is that certain documents have not been received by the defense. They include death certificates for the 148 people prosecutors claim were killed in Dujail. In addition, a disc of witness statements the defense was given has bad picture and sound quality, al-Ubaidi said. (Updated 5:15 a.m.)

Security beefed up at home of Myanmar democracy leader

From CNN Producer Narunart Prapanya

(CNN) -- Amid reports that the house arrest of Nobel laureate and democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi has been extended for another year, eyewitnesses tell CNN security at her home was beefed up on Sunday.

Road blocks were set up on the street, with only military vehicles allowed to pass, eyewitnesses said. A number of military vehicles traveled in and out of the main gate of Suu Kyi's lakeside villa in Yangon, Myanmar. Unconfirmed reports said a military team met with Suu Kyi briefly to inform her that her house arrest was extended.

Although she has spent most of the last 15 years under house arrest, the most recent punishment stems from a bloody May 2003 clash between her supporters and a pro-government group during her political campaign. Afterward, she and the top officials of her party, the National League for Democracy, were put under military custody. In late 2003, Suu Kyi was transferred to the villa where she has lived alone. (Posted 12:53 a.m.)

Quake levels thousands of homes in China

BEIJING (CNN) -- Thousands of people were sleeping in tents and open-air courtyards after a moderate earthquake early Saturday destroyed thousands of homes in eastern China, killing at least 17 people and injuring hundreds of others, according to Chinese officials and state-run media reports.

The 5.5-magnitude quake struck about 8:49 a.m. Saturday (7:49 p.m. Friday ET) in an area dotted with small farming villages, according to China's Xinhua news agency and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The quake's epicenter was on the Hubei-Jiangxi provincial border, about 15 miles west-southwest of the city of Jiujiang in Jiangxi province. (Posted 9:50 p.m.)

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