Volcano death toll

The ash and boulders had been building up since an eruption in July, high on the slopes of the Mayon volcano in the Philippines.

The ash and boulders had been building up since an eruption in July, high on the slopes of the Mayon volcano in the Philippines.

Typhoon Durian's blasts of wind and drenching rain raked it all down in a deadly black wall of debris.

For nearly three hours, mudslides ripped through Mayon's gullies, uprooting trees, flattening houses and engulfing people.

With power and phone lines down, it took until yesterday morning, when the first flights managed to survey the area, before the scope of the devastation emerged.

The national Office of Civil Defence reported 198 people were killed and 260 were missing. Another 130 were injured just on Mayon.

El Nino warning

A "MODERATE" El Nino weather system has developed in the tropical Pacific Ocean and could create unusual and severe weather patterns around the world, the UN weather agency said yesterday.

The condition, which is linked to warmer surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean during the latter months of the year, is likely to intensify over the next three months.

Giveaway cars

AMERICAN schools are giving away cars to students as rewards for good attendance.

The schemes are being used in several states to try to encourage pupils not to bunk off. Those who have been to most of their lessons are put into a draw and one winner is picked at random.

Near-perfect attendance in Casper, Wyoming, landed Kaytie Christopherson, 16, a new 28,000 dollar (£14,000) pick-up truck complete with MP3 player.

Ban continues

THE European Union yesterday extended for three months a ban on live bird imports that was imposed a year ago to prevent the spread of bird flu.

In a statement, the EU said it needed more time to consider quarantine rules and other protective measures which would allow it to relax the ban.

Pope's message

POPE Benedict XVI has been greeted in Turkey with a lecture on how the Christian West scorns Islam. He left with Istanbul's chief Islamic cleric speaking lyrically of better days ahead between the faiths.

"Istanbul is a bridge that unites sides," the Pope said before ending his first papal trip to the Muslim world. "I hope that this dialogue continues."

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