In the World

The two-century-old Sveti Nikola church was set afire in Labunista, Macedonia. Its roof was heavily damaged.
The two-century-old Sveti Nikola church was set afire in Labunista, Macedonia. Its roof was heavily damaged. (BORIS GRDANOSKI / Associated Press)
Posted: February 01, 2012

Divers end search on Italian liner

GIGLIO, Italy - Italian emergency officials were ending the search for missing people in the submerged part of the Costa Concordia cruise ship due to the danger to rescue workers.

Italy's Civil Protection agency said Tuesday that technical studies indicated the deformed hull of the ship created too many safety concerns to continue the search within it. Relatives of the missing and diplomatic officials representing their countries have been informed of the decision, it said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Civil Protection, Francesca Maffini, stressed that the search for the missing would continue wherever possible, including on the part of the ship above the water, in the waters surrounding the ship and along the nearby coastline.

The Concordia ran aground off the Tuscan island of Giglio on Jan. 13 when the captain deviated from his planned route and struck a reef, creating a huge gash that put the ship on its side. Seventeen bodies have been recovered, of which one has not been identified. Sixteen people are listed as missing but are presumed dead.

- AP

Court to review genocide bill

PARIS - France's Constitutional Council was asked Tuesday to determine whether a bill concerning the mass killings of Armenians a century ago violates the constitution. The bill makes it a crime to deny that the killings of about 1.5 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915 constituted genocide.

Turkey, which says there was no systematic campaign against Armenians, is strongly opposed to the bill and says relations with France will suffer as a result. Turkey suspended military and economic cooperation after the lower house's approval of the measure in December. The Senate gave it the green light in late January.

President Nicolas Sarkozy - who personally backed the bill - must sign the legislation for it to become law. However, the latest action will delay the process. Turkish officials welcomed the move. President Abdullah Gul said: "I hope the French court makes the right decision."

- AP

Church icons safe in Macedonia fire

LABUNISTA, Macedonia - An Orthodox Christian church famed for its valuable icons was set alight in southern Macedonia overnight, authorities said Tuesday, as religious tension between Christians and minority Muslims grew over a carnival in which men dressed as women in burkas and mocked the Quran.

Firefighters extinguished the fire late Monday in the two-century-old Sveti Nikola church, in the village of Labunista near the town of Struga. The church's roof was heavily damaged, but its icons were not, the fire service said.

Hours before the fire, Muslim leaders had appealed for calm among community members. The Jan. 13 Vevcani festival prompted angry, sometimes violent demonstrations by Muslims, who are nearly all ethnic Albanian and make up 33 percent of the country's 2.1 million population and accuse the majority of stoking hatred.

- AP

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