World briefly 12/5


Typhoon leaves dozens dead in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — More than 50 people were killed and some 57,000 displaced Tuesday as Typhoon Bopha hit the southern Philippines, with strong winds and heavy rains also ripping apart power lines, roofing and trees.

The typhoon, the country’s strongest this year, made landfall at the town of Baganga on the eastern side of Mindanao island before 5 a.m. local time.

With rescue efforts still under way, there was no confirmation of the overall death toll.

The governor of Compostela Valley province said 34 people died in the town of New Bataan due to flash floods, while the military placed the number at 43.

A reporter from ANC news channel who reached New Bataan reported seeing 43 corpses lined up on the ground. The reporter said a nearby military camp was swept away by flooding.

Authorities said 23 people died in Cateel, located in Davao Oriental province.

At least 57,000 people have moved into some 1,000 government shelters across the island for fear of flash floods and landslides, the civil defense office said.

The typhoon saw sustained winds of 115 mph, gusts of up to 130 mph and heavy rain, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.

Cairo protestors gassed

CAIRO — A protest by at least 100,000 Egyptians outside the presidential palace in Cairo turned violent on Tuesday as tensions grew over Islamist President Mohammed Morsi’s seizure of nearly unrestricted powers and a draft constitution hurriedly adopted by his allies.

Crowds around the capital and in the coastal city of Alexandria were still swelling several hours after nightfall. The large turnout signaled sustained momentum for the opposition, which brought out at least 200,000 protesters to Cairo’s Tahrir Square a week ago and a comparable number on Friday. They are demanding the Morsi rescind decrees that placed him above judicial oversight.

In a brief outburst, police fired tear gas to stop protesters approaching the palace in the capital’s Heliopolis district. Morsi was in the palace conducting business as usual while the protesters gathered outside. But he left for home through a back door when the crowds “grew bigger,” according to a presidential official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.

The official said Morsi left on the advice of security officials at the palace and to head off “possible dangers” and to calm protesters. Morsi’s spokesman, however, said the president left the palace at the end of his work schedule through the door he routinely uses.

Fighting, death tolls surge in Damascus

BEIRUT — Syria’s civil war is closing in on President Bashar Assad’s seat of power in Damascus with clashes between government forces and rebels flaring around the city Tuesday, raising fears the capital will become the next major battlefield in the 20-month-old conflict.

Numerous reports emerged of at least a dozen people killed near the ancient city and elsewhere, and the regime said nine students and a teacher died from rebel mortar fire on a school. The state news agency originally said 30 people had been killed in the attack.

While many of the mostly poor, Sunni Muslim suburbs ringing Damascus have long been opposition hotbeds, fighting has intensified in the area in recent weeks as rebels press a battle they hope will finish Assad’s regime.

“The push to take Damascus is a real one, and intense pressure to take control of the city is part of a major strategic shift by rebel commanders,” said Mustafa Alani of the Geneva-based Gulf Research Center.

The increased pressure has raised worries that he or his forces will resort to desperate measures, perhaps striking neighbors Turkey or Israel, or using chemical weapons.

By wire sources