Scotland's official holiday turns into day of mourning
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) -- Emergency crews are continuing to search the ruins of a Glasgow pub smashed by a falling police helicopter.
At least eight people are dead and more than a dozen hospitalized with serious injuries. Five of those killed were in the pub and three were on the aircraft.
The numbers could change as the rescue and recovery operation continues. Authorities say they won't know for sure if there are more victims in the building until the wreckage of the helicopter is removed. That process could take days.
Police say the pub was packed with well over 100 people when the crash occurred last night, on the eve of St. Andrew's Day.
The holiday, named for the patron saint of Scotland, is normally a celebration of Scottish culture and heritage. Instead, Scotland's leader ordered flags at government buildings to be lowered to half-staff.
First Minister Alex Salmond called it "a black day for Glasgow and Scotland" but also a day to "take pride and courage in how we respond to adversity and tragedy."
HAVANA (AP) -- Two people are dead from torrential rains that lashed Cuba for more than 24 hours, island authorities said Saturday.
The deluge caused multiple collapses in dwellings in Havana, Communist Party newspaper Granma reported. A man and a woman were killed in one structure that caved in.
Yunior Amesa, nephew of the deceased man, told The Associated Press he had left for work just before their building came down.
"It was raining very hard and there was a lot of weight (from the water) up there. They went to bed. Minutes before, I was sitting in there," Amesa said. "When I went to work I heard the building had collapsed and caught them both sleeping."
The rain arrived early Friday and fell near constantly throughout the day. Traffic snarled and some cars were stranded, as intersections flooded and streets turned into rushing rivers.
Cuba's Meteorological Institute recorded 2.8 inches (72 millimeters) of precipitation during a single three-hour period in the afternoon in Havana, and accumulations of up to 7.8 inches (200 millimeters) overnight.
Rain continued to fall in the capital early Saturday, and the famed seaside Malecon boulevard remained closed because of high surf that was breaking over the seawall and onto the street.
Granma said the area affected ranged from the western province of Artemisa to Ciego de Avila in the central part of the country.
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- A strong, shallow earthquake rocked parts of eastern Indonesia early Sunday, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the 6.3-magnitude quake was centered 343 kilometers (212) miles northwest of Saumlaki, a coastal town in Maluku province, at a depth of 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) beneath the sea.
Indonesia's Meteorology, Earthquake and Geophysics Agency put its preliminary magnitude at 6.7 and said that the quake was unlikely to trigger a tsunami, said Suhardjono, the agency official who like many Indonesians uses a single name.
The world's largest archipelago, Indonesia is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin.
In 2004, a monster temblor off Indonesia's Aceh shores triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. Most of the deaths were in Aceh.
SYDNEY (AP) -- A teenager has been killed by a shark off Australia's east coast. It is the second fatal shark attack in Australia this month.
New South Wales state police say 19-year-old Zach Young was body boarding with three friends at Riecks Point, near the northern New South Wales city of Coffs Harbour, when he was bitten on the legs.
The teen's friends got him back to the beach, where paramedics tried to save him. He was pronounced dead a short time later. Officials say he suffered cardiac arrest in addition to his injuries.
The beach was put under a 24-hour closure.
On Nov. 23, a 35-year-old surfer was fatally mauled by a shark off a beach near the Western Australia community of Gracetown.
CAIRO (AP) -- A panel in Egypt has begun voting on a series of constitutional amendments, a milestone in the country's transition to democracy after a July coup.
The two days of voting, to be aired on state television, began Saturday. The 50-member committee will vote electronically on each of the 247 articles. Most of them are changes to existing portions of the constitution while some brand new additions.
The panel will hand in the draft to interim President Adly Mansour, who has a month to call for a public vote on it. That's first step in a military-backed transition plan after the coup that ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.
Egypt is scheduled to have parliamentarian and presidential elections next year.
AMSTERDAM (AP) -- The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical weapons says the United States has offered to help destroy some of the most lethal parts of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile,
The organization's Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said in a statement Saturday the U.S. government has offered to contribute "a destruction technology, full operational support and financing to neutralize" the weapons offshore, most likely on a ship in the Mediterranean Sea. The operation is to be completed with Syrian assistance by Dec. 31.
The OPCW also wants nearly 800 tons of chemicals, many of which are industrial chemicals regularly destroyed at civilian facilities all over the world, to be destroyed by private companies as part of the organization's ambitious plan to completely eradicate Syria's chemical weapons program by mid-2014.
BEIRUT (AP) -- Lebanese police officials say clashes between supporters and opponents of the Syrian government have left two people dead in the northern city of Tripoli.
The officials said the guard of a Sunni mosque and a 16-year-old youth were killed in Saturday's clashes. They said children were stuck in classrooms in three schools, unable to move because of the heavy gunfire.
The officials requested anonymity in line with police regulations.
Sectarian clashes related to the Syrian civil war often flare in Tripoli, in particular between two impoverished neighborhoods that back opposite sides.
The Bab Tabbaneh district is largely Sunni Muslim, as are Syria's rebels fighting against Assad's rule. Residents of the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood are mostly of the Alawite sect to which Assad belongs.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan both say they desire closer ties, trade and regional peace and have agreed to work toward those goals.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met in Kabul today with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Sharif says that the recent release of a senior Taliban leader shows he is committed to helping bring peace to Afghanistan. Karzai says the two men discussed "how Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States can work together to bring peace to the region."
Many Taliban leaders are thought to be based in Pakistan, and Kabul has sought Islamabad's help to get them to talk.
Karzai was in Pakistan last August.
Relations between the two countries have been testy and Afghanistan has often accused Pakistan of aiding Taliban leaders sheltering across the border.
Sharif has made improving ties with Afghanistan a priority.
BEIJING (AP) -- An official survey shows Chinese manufacturing barely expanded in November and stayed at the same rate as in the previous month, indicating a continual sluggish recovery.
The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing's Sunday report shows the group's purchasing managers' index remained at 51.4, the same from October.
A private survey by HSBC expected weaker growth in Chinese manufacturing with a PMI at 50.4, down from October's 50.9, amid signs of weaker global demands and slower inventory restocking.
Both indexes use a 100-point scale on which numbers below 50 indicate contraction.
NEW DELHI (AP) -- India's Mars orbiter mission has ventured out of Earth's sphere of influence in an attempt to reach the red planet's orbit after a critical maneuver.
The Bangalore-based Indian Space Research Organization says the spacecraft fired its main engine for more than 20 minutes early Sunday, giving it the correct velocity to leave the earth's orbit.
The spacecraft is now on course to encounter Mars after a journey of about 10 months around the sun.
India launched its first spacecraft bound for Mars on Nov.5, a complex mission that it hopes will demonstrate and advance technologies for space travel.
The 3,000-pound orbiter Mangalyaan, which means "Mars craft" in Hindi, must travel 485 million miles over 300 days to reach an orbit around Mars next September.
Ukraine leader blasts violence against protesters
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine's president has condemned the violent dispersal of pro-EU protesters by riot police.
Early Saturday, officers in riot gear moved against several hundred protesters on Independence Square in central Kiev, beating some with truncheons.
President Viktor Yanukovych said in an address Saturday evening that he condemned "the actions that led to the forceful confrontation." He called for an investigation and for those responsible to be punished.
The demonstrators have denounced Yanukovych's refusal to sign an association agreement with the European Union.
Police say more gunshots fired in Bangkok
BANGKOK (AP) -- Police in the Thai capital say gunshots were fired a day after political protests erupted into violence between supporters and opponents of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra.
The nighttime clashes left at least 1 dead and 35 wounded. It's not clear if the latest gunshots caused more injuries.
Police Col. Narongrit Promsawat says there were "sporadic shootings" Sunday morning near a stadium where the clashes erupted the day before.
The violence stirred fears of further instability like what plagued the country during related political conflicts in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
More confrontation is feared Sunday when anti-government protesters vowed to push ahead with plans to seize the well-guarded prime minister's offices.