World news in brief

By Drum Digital
11 November 2013

News from around the world in brief - 11 November

Many flock to atheist US mega-church

Several hundred people attended more than an hour of rousing music, an inspirational sermon, a reading and some quiet reflection. The only thing missing was God.

Nearly three dozen gatherings nicknamed "atheist mega-churches" by supporters have sprung up around the U.S. The movement fuelled by social media and led by two prominent British comedians is no joke.

The services have drawn hundreds of atheists seeking the camaraderie of a congregation without religion or ritual. They want to find a new way to meet likeminded people and make their presence more visible in a landscape dominated by faith. – SAPA-AP

Olympic torch returns to earth

A Russian space capsule carrying the Sochi Olympic torch and three astronauts is heading for Earth after undocking from the International Space Station.

The Soyuz capsule separated from the space station late Sunday with Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin, American Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano of Italy aboard.

The unlit Olympic torch was brought to the ISS on Thursday when three new crew members arrived. Two Russian crew members took it on a spacewalk Saturday.

The Soyuz is to land on the steppes of Kazakhstan about 3.5 hours after undocking. – SAPA-AP

Baby born amidst Philippines debris

Cheers broke out in the typhoon-devastated airport of the city of Tacloban in the Philippines when 21-year old Emily Ortega gave birth to a baby girl.

It was a rare piece of good news for the seaside city where officials fear at least 10,000 were killed, and where tens of thousands of residents saw their homes flattened by ferocious winds and a massive storm surge from Typhoon Haiyan.

Her birth was near miraculous - her mother was in an evacuation centre when the storm surge hit and flooded the city. The mother had to swim and cling to a post to survive before she found safety at the airport. Her husband in Manila was unaware of what has happened. – SAPA-AFP

Five dead in Canadian plane crash

Ontario Provincial Police are confirming that five people have died in a plane crash in north-western Ontario.

Police also confirm there are two survivors.

Winnipeg radio station CJOB reports the plane was operated by Bearskin Airlines.

A person who answered the phone for the Red Lake fire department late Sunday said only that the plane crashed near the airport.  - SAPA

Conflict, kidnapping threaten Mozambique tourism

A spate of kidnappings and a low-intensity conflict with troubling echoes of Mozambique's civil war are threatening to scare away tourists who normally flock to the country's palm-fringed beaches.

Around this time of year hoteliers, tour operators and shop owners at Mozambique's Indian Ocean resort towns are usually busy preparing for a deluge of holidaymakers.

White-sand beaches, pristine coral reefs and luxury hideaways draw travellers from neighbouring South Africa.

After more than two decades of peace, just over two million tourists now visit Mozambique each year, accounting for six percent of the economy in 2012.

But in recent weeks clashes have intensified between fighters from revived rebel group Renamo and the army in the centre of the country.

It is the worst violence since Mozambique's brutal civil war ended in 1992. - SAPA

US to upset allies with Iran deal

The United States remains ready to upset key allies Israel and Saudi Arabia by securing a swift nuclear deal with Iran despite the failure of talks in Geneva, US-based analysts said.

While Tehran remained under the greatest pressure to reach a speedy deal with the major powers, they said, Washington was anxious to take advantage of Iran's willingness to negotiate an accord and avert future conflict in the Middle East.

Analysts are adamant that Israel and Saudi Arabia remain resolutely opposed to any deal between Washington and Tehran.

"Both the Israelis and the Saudis have indicated publicly they want the United States to go to war with Iran," said Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council.

"If there is a deal, there will not be a war, that's why they are upset." – SAPA-AP

Sudan fighting intensifies

Arab tribal militias fired rockets, artillery and heavy machine guns during battle across a wide swathe of Sudan's South Darfur, sources on both sides said.

They said they could not yet give a casualty count, but tribal unrest which worsened this year in Darfur has already killed hundreds.

Both sides said a land dispute sparked the battle.

Inter-ethnic fighting involving Arab groups has been the main cause of violence in Sudan's far-west Darfur region this year. – SAPA-AFPR

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