ANCHORAGE, Alaska

Search ends for climbers presumed dead in slide

A shallow avalanche on Alaska’s Mount McKinley may not have killed four Japanese climbers, but the slide pushed them into a crevasse more than 100 feet deep, the National Park Service said Sunday.

Spokeswoman Kris Fister said Sunday from Talkeetna that the search for the climbers was permanently suspended after a mountaineering ranger found the climbing rope in debris at the bottom of the crevasse.

“We believe this is their final resting place,” Fister said.

Yoshiaki Kato, 64, Masako Suda, 50, Michiko Suzuki, 56, and Tamao Suzuki, 63, are missing and presumed dead.

The avalanche early Wednesday also pushed Hitoshi Ogi, 69, into the crevasse. Ogi climbed 60 feet out of the crevasse and reached a base camp Thursday afternoon.

Ogi had been attached to the other members of the team by climbing rope as they descended in an avalanche-prone section of the West Buttress Route. The rope broke in the avalanche and fall.

SAN FRANCISCO

Sailor rescued off Mexico after whale hits his craft

A Sacramento man was rescued after his 50-foot boat was struck by a whale while he sailed alone about 40 miles off the western coast of Mexico, authorities said.

The collision’s impact knocked out the sailboat’s steering and the vessel began taking on water late Tuesday, Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Pamela Boehland said.

Max Young, 67, stuffed a mattress into the hole caused by the whale, turned on four bilge pumps and was “trying to bail out water as fast as he could, because he didn’t know how long it would take to be rescued,” said his wife, Debra.

He also activated an emergency beacon, which alerted the Coast Guard.

“His EPIRB delivered an exact position to us, contact information that allowed us to quickly discern the sail plan of and number of persons on the vessel, and really took a lot of the search out of the search and rescue,” said Lt. Charles Kelly, of the Coast Guard’s command center in Alameda, Calif.

With that information, officials at the command center were able to immediately direct a merchant ship, which was about 60 miles away, to the sinking craft. The freighter arrived around 4 a.m. Wednesday.

KADUNA, Nigeria

Suicide bombers kill 21 in attacks on churches

Suicide bombers killed 21 people in attacks on three churches in Nigeria during Sunday services, exacerbating religious tensions in a West African nation that is almost evenly divided between Muslims and Christians.

Authorities arrested one of the bombers who survived, said Kaduna State police chief Mohammed Abubakar Jinjiri, but he declined to say who police suspect was responsible for the bombings.

It was the third Sunday in a row that deadly attacks have been carried out against Christian churches in northern Nigeria. 

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the latest one, but suspicion fell on the radical Islamist sect Boko Haram because it took responsibility for the two earlier weekend assaults.

Boko Haram is waging an increasingly bloody fight with security agencies and the public in Nigeria.

More than 560 people have been killed in violence blamed on the sect this year alone, according to an Associated Press count.