MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan

Military relief arrives in Kashmir

Pakistani and U.S. military helicopters delivered aid at a brisk pace to the earthquake-stricken region of Kashmir yesterday amid warnings from the World Food Program that a half-million survivors have yet to receive desperately needed help.

Choppers landed under sunny skies in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan’s portion of the divided Kashmir region, bringing tents and other supplies, while relief workers set up field hospitals to treat thousands of stranded, injured people.

Authorities warned that exposure and infections could drive the death toll up from 54,000 as the harsh Himalayan winter loomed. Landslides caused by the magnitude-7.6 earthquake Oct. 8 cut off many roads, and they could take weeks to clear.

Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, visiting the earthquake-stricken region, said he would allow Kashmiris to cross the boundary with Indian-held territory to help in quake reconstruction efforts.

 

BEIJING

Rumsfeld: China understating military

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday accused China of understating the scope of its defense spending, and he said this is sowing suspicion about how China intends to use its growing military might.

Rumsfeld arrived in the Chinese capital for his first visit since he became President Bush’s defense chief in 2001. He was scheduled to meet today with President Hu Jintao, who also is chairman of the Central Military Commission, which runs the Chinese military.

In an interview aboard his plane en route from Washington, Rumsfeld questioned China’s motives in underreporting its defense spending. He mentioned no figures, but the Pentagon said last summer that China may be spending $90 billion on defense this year – three times the announced total.

 

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras

Hurricane Wilma strengthens, heads to Florida

Hurricane Wilma whirled into the record books yesterday as the 12th such storm of the season, on course to sideswipe Central America or Mexico and looming as a “significant threat” to Florida by the weekend.

Forecasters warned that Wilma was “a major hurricane” that was likely to rake Honduras and the Cayman Islands before turning toward the narrow Yucatan Channel between Cuba and Mexico’s Cancun region.

By 2 p.m., Wilma was centered about 180 miles south of Grand Cayman Island, and was moving toward the west-northwest at nearly 8 mph, with maximum sustained winds at 80 mph. Forecasters said Wilma was likely to become a Category 3 hurricane, with winds reaching 120 mph by tomorrow.

Wilma was blamed for one death in Jamaica as a tropical depression on Sunday.

 

BAGHDAD

Saddam’s lawyer plans to ask for 3-month delay

The lawyer for Saddam Hussein said yesterday he will ask a tribunal for a three-month adjournment of the former Iraqi dictator’s trial for a 1982 massacre.

Saddam and seven senior members of his 23-year regime go on trial today to face charges they ordered the killings of nearly 150 people from the mainly Shiite town of Dujail following a failed attempt on Saddam’s life.

Khalil Dulaimi told The Associated Press he would ask during today’s opening session for more time to prepare Saddam’s defense and arrange for Arab and Western lawyers to join him in the defense team.

 

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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