AMAGA, Colombia

Hope fades for 50 workers trapped by mine explosion

Authorities held out little hope Friday for dozens of workers trapped underground after an explosion ripped through a coal mine, killing at least 18 during a shift change.

At least 50 workers remained unaccounted for a day and a half after the explosion and rescue efforts were moving slowly, impeded by the presence of dangerous gases, officials said.

Authorities believe a methane gas buildup caused Wednesday night’s explosion.

“It’s unlikely that there are any survivors given the accumulation of methane gas and carbon monoxide,” national disaster director Luz Amanda Pulido said.

More than 3,000 residents of Amaga, about half the town, attended a funeral service at a local church Friday for nine of the 18 whose bodies were pulled from the San Fernando mine.

LISBON, Portugal

First Portuguese-language Nobel literature winner dies

Jose Saramago, who became the first Portuguese-language winner of the Nobel Literature prize although his popularity at home was dampened by his unflinching support for communism, blunt manner and sometimes difficult prose style, died Friday.

Saramago, 87, died at his home in Lanzarote, one of Spain’s Canary Islands, of multi-organ failure after a long illness, the Jose Saramago Foundation said.

“The writer died in the company of his family, saying goodbye in a serene and placid way,” the foundation said.

Saramago was an outspoken man who antagonized many, and moved to the Canary Islands after a public spat in 1992 with the Portuguese government, which he accused of censorship.

His 1998 Nobel accolade was nonetheless widely cheered in his homeland after decades of the award eluding writers of a language used by some 170 million people around the world.

VANCOUVER, Canada

Police not justified in fatal Taser use, inquiry finds

The head of a public inquiry into the death of a Polish immigrant said Friday that police officers who confronted the man at Vancouver’s airport were not justified in repeatedly using their Taser stun gun to subdue him.

Inquiry commissioner Thomas Braidwood said the officers could not have, as they claimed, reasonably perceived that Robert Dziekanski was a threat when he picked up a stapler during their confrontation at the airport in October 2007.

Dziekanski died after being shocked five times with a Taser stun gun by police in an incident that was widely seen around the world after a bystander filmed it.

Dziekanski, who spoke only Polish, apparently had become upset after waiting 10 hours at the airport for his mother. The four officers, who responded to emergency calls about a man throwing furniture, knocked Dziekanski to the ground using a stun gun about 30 seconds after arriving on the scene. the time medical help arrived, Dziekanski was dead.