MOSCOW

Workers hope to save 83 miners trapped in coal mine

Rescue workers scrambled to save 83 people trapped in Russia’s largest underground coal mine after two explosions killed at least 12 people and injured dozens more, officials said. Among those still trapped early today were 19 rescue workers who had entered the Siberian mine after the first blast and 64 miners.

A high level of methane gas after Sunday’s second, more powerful blast raised fears of further explosions and prevented more rescuers from going into the mine for the rest of the day.

Only early today was the first rescue team sent down to try to bring out five miners whose location had been established, said Valery Korchagin, a spokesman for the Emergency Ministry. It was not clear, however, whether the miners were still alive, he said.

More than 500 emergency workers from around the country tried Sunday to ventilate the mine and rebuild mine shafts so the search for those trapped could resume, Korchagin said by telephone from the Siberian region of Kemerovo, about 2,000 miles east of Moscow.

By late Sunday, it was still too dangerous to enter the mine because of high levels of methane gas, said Emergency Minister Sergei Shoigu.

GENEVA

Iceland volcano disrupts flights across Europe again

Airlines canceled hundreds of flights across Europe and added hours to trans-Atlantic journeys Sunday as planes were diverted around a large plume of ash spewed by an Icelandic volcano and stretching from Greenland to Portugal.

So far, the weekend cancellations have been a fraction of the flights nixed two weeks ago when European air traffic authorities closed down much of the continent’s airspace for fear the volcano’s ash could harm jet engines. But the possibility loomed of continuing eruption, and rising costs to airlines from disruption.

Eurocontrol, the Brussels-based agency that coordinates air traffic control centers throughout the continent, said there would be about 24,500 flights within the European area Sunday, about 500 below average for this time of year.

It said the ash cloud was expected to dissipate and that most of the closed airports were likely to reopen later Sunday.

MANILA, Philippines

Long lines for voters after violence-plagued campaign

After a decade of corruption-tainted politics and untamed poverty, Filipinos stood in long lines today to elect a new leader, and surveys indicate they’re pinning their hopes on the son of democracy icons who electrified masses with his family name and clean image.

Sen. Benigno Aquino III — whose father was assassinated while opposing a dictatorship and whose late mother led the “people power” revolt that restored freedoms and swept her into power — had a large lead in the last pre-election polls.

The election has been marred by violence, with at least 30 killed in political attacks while reports of gunfire and voter intimidation caused tensions in at least two provinces.

And a software glitch in optical scanning machines that for the first time will count and transmit votes in 17,600 precincts was discovered just days ago, almost derailing the vote in the world’s second-biggest archipelago.

BERLIN

Merkel’s alliance voted out of power in state election

Voters in Germany’s most populous state dealt Chancellor Angela Merkel a painful setback Sunday, erasing her government’s majority in the upper house of parliament and curbing its power after a stumbling start and criticism over the Greek debt crisis.

Merkel’s center-right alliance was voted out of power in a state election in North Rhine-Westphalia, a region of some 18 million people that includes Cologne and the industrial Ruhr area, projections showed. It was the first electoral test since she started her second term in October.

Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats won 34.5 percent of Sunday’s vote — more than 10 points fewer than five years ago — and the Free Democrats 6.8 percent, according to projections by ARD television based on results from more than 110 of the 128 districts.

JERUSALEM

Mitchell departs after laying groundwork for peace talks

The U.S. praised Israelis and Palestinians for pledging modest steps to create a positive atmosphere for their first peace contacts in more than a year, after the initial round of indirect talks ended Sunday.

President Obama’s Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, left for home Sunday after multiple meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders over the course of a week to get the indirect talks under way. Resumption of the peace talks amounts to the first achievement here for the Obama administration.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said both sides offered initial steps to help things along: Israel committed to no building in a housing project in disputed east Jerusalem and the Palestinians said they would work against incitement.

Crowley said in a statement that Mitchell will return in a week for another round of shuttle diplomacy.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday that the goal should be resumption of direct peace negotiations as soon as possible.

FARMINGTON, N.M.

Hate crime charges sought in branding of swastika

Prosecutors in northwestern New Mexico said they will pursue hate crime charges against three men accused of branding a swastika on a mentally challenged man’s arm using a heated metal clothes hanger.

Jesse Sanford, 24, William Hatch, 28, and Paul Beebe, 26, were charged Friday with kidnapping, aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and other felony charges. The men were jailed with bond set at $150,000 cash.

The three white men are accused of forcing the victim from the Navajo Indian reservation into a car April 29 and driving him to an apartment.

Besides branding the man’s arm there, police say the suspects shaved a swastika into his hair and drew degrading words and pictures on his body with permanent marker.

Afterward, the trio allegedly kicked the 22-year-old victim out of the apartment, and a nearby convenience store clerk called 911.

Officers obtained search warrants for the apartment and the men’s vehicle. Insignia associated with white supremacist beliefs were found in the apartment, police Sgt. Robert Perez said.

LIVERMORE, Calif.

Two killed as small plane hits tree in rain, low clouds

Two people were killed Sunday morning when a small plane crashed about five miles northeast of the Livermore Municipal Airport.

A preliminary inquiry indicates the plane, a Piper Cherokee, hit a tree, and then crashed just 15 feet below the crest of a grassy hill in Contra Costa County, Sheriff’s Lt. Eric Navarro said. Foul weather consisting of rain and low clouds could have been a contributing factor, Navarro said.

The county coroner was working to notify the next of kin of the two adults who were fatally injured.