An official from the state carrier Yemenia said some bodies had been recovered from the wreck. The official could not say whether there were any survivors.
An Airbus A310-300 from Yemen with 153 people on board, including 66 French nationals, crashed into choppy seas as it tried to land in bad weather on the Indian Ocean archipelago of Comoros on Tuesday, officials said.
Paris Airport said there were 66 French nationals aboard.
Two French military planes and a French ship left the Indian Ocean islands of Mayotte and Reunion to search for the Yemenia aircraft that was carrying nationals from France and Comoros.
"The planes have seen debris at the supposed point of impact," Ibrahim Kassim, an official from regional air security body ASECNA, told Reuters.
A Yemenia official said there were 142 passengers, including three infants, and 11 crew. The plane was flying from Sanaa to Moroni, the capital of the main island of the archipelago.
A United Nations official at the airport, who declined to be named, said the control tower had received notification the plane was coming into land, and then lost contact with it.
Yemenia is 51 percent owned by the Yemeni government and 49 percent owned by the Saudi Arabian government. Its fleet includes two Airbus 330-200s, four Airbus 310-300s and four Boeing 737-800s, according to the company website.
The Comoros covers three small volcanic islands, Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli, in the Mozambique channel, 300 km (190 miles) northwest of Madagascar and a similar distance east of the African mainland.
MALAYSIA said on Monday that Indonesia's 'emotional' decision to ban its nationals from coming here to work as domestic helpers was linked to the upcoming presidential elections.
Angry over the latest case of maid abuse, Indonesia last week said it would stop sending domestic helpers to Malaysia at least until a mid-July meeting in Kuala Lumpur to discuss a new migrant worker agreement.
Malaysian Human Resources Minister S. Subramaniam said the abuse cases had become an issue in Indonesia due to the upcoming July 8 presidential elections, which president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is tipped to win.
'They are facing an election so some issues like this become very emotional at this time. After the elections, things might change,' Mr Subramaniam told AFP.
'But if this ban continues, we will have to look at other markets,' he said, adding that the government is recruiting maids from other countries, including Muslims from the southern Philippines.
A group representing maid agencies has reportedly said that between 50,000 and 60,000 Filipino Muslim maids could be hired to fill the void following Indonesia's temporary ban.
'We welcome the Muslim Filipino maids,' Mr Subramaniam said.
'Filipino maids can come here according to the terms and conditions which their country has already signed with us, so whether it is Muslim or Christian, they can be hired to fill any gaps.'
A Roman Catholic nun who left her convent in India after 33 years of service has penned an unflattering picture of life within the cloistered walls in a book that may further embarrass the Church.
In “Amen: The Autobiography of a Nun”, published in India in English this month, Sister Jesme tells of sexual relations between some priests and nuns, homosexuality in the convent and discrimination and corruption in Catholic institutions.
The 52-year-old outspoken former college principal left the Congregation of Mother of Carmel in the southern state of Kerala last year after what she described as the authorities’ repeated attempts to have her declared insane.
“Amen” grabbed media headlines in February, when it was first published in Malayalam – the regional language of Kerala.
With the new English edition and offers of a film based on the book, Sister Jesme’s plea for a reformation of the Church is now set to reach a wider audience.
Father Stephen Alathara, a spokesman for the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, told Reuters the organisation was unruffled by the book’s publication.
“We are not at all concerned about this book. It’s not an issue for the Catholic Church to give an answer to these kinds of silly books,” he said.
Sister Jesme, who goes by only one name, told Reuters in a phone interview that she is a “little cautious” these days.
Pakistan has offered a $615,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Baitullah Mehsud, the local Taliban leader who is currently in hiding in the tribal belt. On top of that, Mehsud, who allegedly has ties to al-Qaeda, already has a $5m bounty on his head that was promised by the US state department, which considers him "a key al-Qaeda facilitator in the tribal areas of South Waziristan".
Pakistan blames Mehsud for a wave of deadly attacks that have killed hundreds of people in the past two years and has vowed to remove him from his fiefdom
Two national Urdu-language newspapers and local papers in the northwestern city of Peshawar carried adverts on Sunday offering rewards for Mehsud, dead or alive, as also for 10 other senior members.
Pakistani air force jets have been attacking Taliban hideouts for several weeks as the government prepares to launch a ground operation to root out Mehsud and his men.
Fayyaz Tooro, home secretary of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), said the reward announcements marked the first time the Pakistan government had put a price for Mehsud's capture.
"This list has been issued by the interior ministry and has been published for the first time in close co-operation with security agencies, which provided invaluable information to the government," Tooro said. Source: Al Jazeera
Manuel Zelaya, the president of Honduras, has been arrested by soldiers after he vowed to go ahead with a controversial referendum on constitutional changes, his allies and local media say.
Zelaya was reportedly arrested at his home on Sunday morning and taken to a military base on the outskirts of the capital, Tegucigalpa.
Al Jazeera's Mariana Sanchez, reporting from Tegucigalpa, said: "An eyewitness told us that between five and six in the morning local time about 100 to 200 soldiers surrounded his home in the centre of the capital and three vans drove up to his home and took him."
A neighbour said that the president came out and the army shot at him, about five shots.
The non-binding referendum, which was due to take place on Sunday, would have asked Hondurans whether they approved of holding a poll on constitutional change alongside general elections in November.
The president fired the armed forces chief of staff last week after he refused to help him organise the vote.
The streets of Tegucigalpa were almost empty of traffic on Sunday after reports on local radio urged the city's residents to stay inside.
"We're talking about a coup d'etat," Rafael Alegria, a union leader and ally of Zelaya, told Honduras' radio Cadena de Noticias. "This is regrettable."
The HRN radio station reported that Zelaya had been sent into exile, citing unidentified "trustworthy sources". Other reports suggested that he may have headed to Venezuela.
Iran has arrested eight local British embassy staff, media reports said Sunday, a move that will further exacerbate strained ties with the West over the post-election turmoil in the Islamic republic.
It is the latest retaliatory action against Britain, which Iran has accused of stoking the unrest that swept the country after the disputed election that returned hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power.
"Eight members of the local staff at the British embassy who had a considerable role in the recent riots have been arrested," the Fars news agency said without quoting a source.
Last week, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned that Iran may downgrade ties with Britain, after the two governments expelled diplomats in a tit-for-tat move.
Iran has also expelled the BBC correspondent in Tehran and arrested a British-Greek journalist, as well as a number of other British passport-holders it says were involved in rioting.
The latest backlash against the West came as opposition leaders in Iran kept up their defiance of the regime, rejecting a panel set up to hold a partial recount of ballots cast in the June 12 vote.
Mir Hossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad's strongest rival, is still insisting on a new vote while another defeated candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, has demanded an independent panel to probe irregularities.
Surprisingly, a Bahraini royal mourned him publicly, young Lebanese held a candlelight tribute, Egyptian musicians hailed him as an inspiration. Beyond his global reach, Michael Jackson held a special place in the Muslim world, as one of the first major Western entertainers to break through cultural barriers in the 1980s.
Some made a connection with the pop icon because of rumours, never substantiated, that he had converted to Islam. Others embraced him as one of their own after he sought refuge in the Gulf emirate of Bahrain in 2005, following a bruising trial on child molestation charges in the United States.
"God have mercy on him. He was a Bahraini. He lived with us," said Jassim Ali, 35, shopping for Jackson CDs in a music store in the capital, Manama.
Jackson only spent a year in the emirate, as a guest of Sheik Abdulla bin Hamad Isa Al Khalifa, a son of Bahrain's king and an aspiring songwriter who had befriended the entertainer. Jackson kept a low profile there, largely staying close to his host.
Across the Arab world, the tributes to Jackson, who died on Friday, mirrored those elsewhere around the globe, though some argued the singer had a special appeal in the region.
"Religion is a big part of identity in this part of the world, and the idea he became Muslim boosted his popularity," said Egyptian cultural critic Tarek el-Shinnawi.
The conversion rumours were fuelled, in parts, by comments by Jackson's brother, Jermaine, a convert to Islam, who has said his brother showed interest in the faith. In November, a British tabloid claimed Michael Jackson converted at a friend's home in Los Angeles.
Egypt opened the Rafah border terminal with Gaza on Saturday to allow some 5,000 Palestinians to cross over in the next three days. The crossing was sealed when Hamas violently took control of Gaza two years ago and has only been opened sporadically since.
Masses of Gazans, led by Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, flocked to the terminal on Saturday afternoon.
"The issue of the Rafah crossing has always been on the table in internal Palestinian negotiations, and we are discussing it with our brothers in Egypt," he continued. "We still believe that closing the terminal was a mistake from both an international and pan-Arab perspective because the suffering of Gaza residents is extreme - words cannot describe it."
He stressed that Hamas was prepared to cooperate on all aspects of operating the crossing. "We can operate the crossing on the basis of an internal political partnership and an Egyptian-Palestinian partnership, with the presence of Europeans, Egyptians, the Palestinian president's office and the Palestinian government," he said. Source: JP
“I am more at ease talking to Umno members (at the grassroots) than those higher up because, eventually, it is the grassroots who will determine victory or defeat,” Said Tun Dr. Mahathir former Malaysian Minister.
Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has welcomed a proposal to amend the Umno constitution to allow 60,000 delegates instead of 2,600 ,to elect the party leaders, saying it would be the best way to check corruption.
He reminded that eventually Umno members would have to change and cease the practice of accepting and giving bribes.
“This is the third amendment to the Umno constitution to check corruption among Umno members, but if Umno members continue to give preference to accepting bribes of RM200 and RM300 than the party, race and country, any amendment will not yield the desired results,” he said.
The draft of the amendment to the Umno constitution is expected to be ready before the party’s general assembly later this year.
A leading Iranian religious leader has called for the execution of "rioters" who have led a series of anti-government protests following the country's disputed June 12 presidential election. Ahmad Khatami, a member of Iran's Assembly of Experts, told worshipers during a sermon at Friday prayers that Iran's judiciary should charge such rioters as "mohareb", or one who wages war against God.
"Anybody who fights against the Islamic system or the leader of Islamic society, fight him until complete destruction," Khatami said in the nationally broadcast sermon at Tehran University.
"We ask that the judiciary confront the leaders of the protests, leaders of the violations, and those who are supported by the United States and Israel strongly, and without mercy to provide a lesson for all."
Under Iranian law, the punishment for people convicted as mohareb is execution.
Mean while, the council said on Friday that the vote was the country's "healthiest" since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The statement leaves the opposition little room for further legal challenges over the election result, with the council previously rejecting a call for the vote to be annulled.
Photo: Farrah Fawcett and Micheal Jackson Pop singer Michael Jackson died of a cardiac arrest at his home in Los Angeles, this morning, another star, US actress Farrah Fawcett died last thursday. Fawcett, known for her role in the Charlie's Angels television series about three female private detectives, was diagnosed with anal cancer in late 2006. Farrah Fawcett has died after a long battle with cancer.The 62-year-old died on Thursday around 9.30am in a Santa Monica hospital in the US state of California.
Jackson was pronounced dead after arriving at hospital having been found unconcious on Thursday afternoon at his home, Los Angeles coroner Fred Worral said.
Hundreds of people massed outside the hospital after news of his arrival there emerged.Many of them burst into tears as his death was announced.
Little known, Fawcett's death came just six weeks after the television broadcast in May of a video diary she made chronicling her battle with cancer and her final months. In her last few years, Fawcett appeared frequently on entertainment television, where she shared details of her battle with cancer.
Jackson leaves behind three children, two he had with Debbie Rowe, whom he divorced in 1999, and another from a mystery surrogate mother.
Nearly 10,000 people were stranded as marine transport came to a halt due to the storms . At least six people have been killed after a tropical storm swept through the central Philippines. Eleven people are also reported to be missing and there are fears that the death toll could rise.
The storm, packing sustained winds of 75kph, first struck eastern Samar province on Tuesday and swept across the centre of the country on Wednesday.
In mountainous Quezon province it also contributed to the formation of a tornado that ripped the roofs off houses in the region and killed four fishermen.
Seventy houses in Samar were destroyed and in nearby Romblon province, 20 homes were swept away.
The storm also caused heavy disruption to transport and more than 60 domestic flights were also cancelled.
In Quezon province, located about 110km southeast of the capital Manila, a tornado struck a fishing boat that had taken cover in a cove, killing four fishermen and injuring two others.
Elsewhere waves and strong winds whipped up by the storm caused a passenger boat to capsize off central Mactan Island.
Philippine coast guard ships rescued all 14 aboard the boat, officials said. Source: Al Jazeera, Google
Indonesia's anti-terror police have detained two Singaporeans linked to the Jemaah Islamiah (JI) militant group and possibly involved in a plot to attack Changi airport, a police source and media reports said on Thursday.
One Singaporean was arrested in Lampung province in Sumatra and another in Central Java province on Sunday, the state Antara news agency reported.
A senior police source who declined to be identified confirmed to Reuters the arrest of two Singaporeans among a number of other recent arrests but declined to elaborate.
The Koran Tempo newspaper quoted a police source as saying a series of arrests had netted three were suspects, including the two Singaporeans.
"They are suspected Singaporean fugitives, linked to the group of Mas Slamet Kastari," the paper quoted the source as saying.
Kastari, who is suspected to be the leader of the Singapore arm of JI shot to fame when he escaped from a prison in the city state last year. He was recaptured in Malaysia in April.
Kastari is the alleged mastermind of a plot to hijack a plane and crash it into Singapore's Changi Airport and was also accused of planning truck bomb attacks at several sites on the island.
One of the Singaporeans, who police suspect was an expert at faking docments, had been working as a pedicab driver in Lampung, according to the Antara news agency.
JI carried out a series of deadly attacks in Indonesia in recent years, including the 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali, which killed 202 people, including Indonesians and foreign tourists.
Indonesian security forces have since detained hundreds of militants and killed a number during shoot outs including JI bomb expert Azahari bin Husin.
A number of key suspects remain at large including Malaysian national Noordin Top, accused of masterminding a series of bombings in Indonesia. Source: Reuters, art.jakarta1
Abraham Hirchson, Israel's former finance minister, has been jailed for five-and-a-half years on theft and fraud charges.Hirchson was also fined $115,000 on Wednesday by the Tel Aviv District Court for stealing about $600,000 from the National Federation of Workers and its subsidiary organisation, Nili.
Hirchson had led the trade union before becoming a minister in the coalition formed by his former ally Ehud Olmert, Israel's former prime minister, in 2006. Earlier on Wednesday, Israel's highest appeals court sentenced Shlomo Benizri, another former cabinet minister, to four years in prison for corruption, more than doubling the sentence he originally received for taking bribes. The judges said they extended Benizri's sentence to set an example and to fight back against a tide of corruption in Israeli public life. "There is a phenomenon of increasing corruption in Israeli society, to which the institutions of power have not been immune," the appeals judges wrote in a verdict, increasing the former welfare and health minister's sentence from 18 months. Benizri, a member of the Jewish ultra-Orthodox Shas party, was a minister from 2000 to 2003 in successive left- and right-led coalition governments. Courtesy: Al Jazeera
The multi-millionaire Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi has refuted allegations that he paid prostitutes to attend parties he hosted at his various homes. The 72-year old denied he had ever paid for sex. ''I've never paid a woman. I never understood where the satisfaction is when you're missing the pleasure of conquest,'' Berlusconi said.
According to Italian press agency ANSA, Berlusconi accused Patrizia D'Addario, the woman who alleges she was paid to spend the night with the premier in November of being involved in a plan to make up false accusations against him.
D'Addario last week told an Italian newspaper that a local businessman now being probed by magistrates paid her €1,000 ($1,408) to attend a dinner at Berlusconi's Rome residence along with other young women, what she described as a "harem" and she was back a few weeks later to spend the night with the premier, Reuters.com reported.
But Berlusconi told Chi: ''Behind the (investigators') probe in (the southern city of) Bari there's someone who gave Ms D'Addario very detailed and very well paid orders.'" Do you think the allegations against Berlusconi affect his ability to govern?".
Despite the swirl of scandal Berlusconi remains popular, consistency scoring approval ratings of more than 60 percent. Source: CNN, ANSA, CHI
Neda Soltan, known as "Angel of Freedom "was reportedly gunned down during protests in the capital city. Videos posted on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter show her bleeding from the nose and mouth as a crowd tries unsuccessfully to stanch the flow and save her life. * Relatives and friends of Neda Soltan, the 26-year-old protester who's become an international symbol of Iranian resistance, wanted her to be remembered for her love of music and passion for travel. * "She was a person full of joy," the Los Angeles Times quotes her music teacher and close friend Hamid Panahi, who was among mourners at her family home. "She was a beam of light. I'm so sorry. I was so hopeful for this woman." * Details continue to emerge Tuesday about the murdered protester nickamed "Angel of Freedom," after graphic videos of her apparent murder at a Tehran protest hit the Internet. * Images of Soltan's bloody death on Saturday have galvanized the country and many insist on speaking out about this young woman and who she was, despite authorities banning anyone from mourning her. * The second of three children, Soltan studied Islamic philosophy at a branch of Tehran's Azad University before deciding to take private classes to become a tour guide, hoping to ultimately lead Iranians on trips abroad, the L.A. Times reported. * She was reportedly passionate about traveling and had gone with friends to Dubai, Turkey and Thailand. The young Iranian was also an accomplished singer who was taking piano lessons, according to Panahi. * Soltan was not a hardcore activist, but had started attending the mass protests because she felt deeply outraged by the election results.
BAIKONUR (Kazakhstan): At 5.50 am Malaysian time yesterday, a Russian-made rocket launched the 2,417 kg satellite into space as more than 50 Malaysians gathered to watch the launch of Measat-3a at the Cosmodrome from several kilometers from the launch site.
The satellite is manufactured by Orbital Sciences Corporation, USA, at a cost of RM600mil.
The group, led by Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, had gathered at specially set up tents near the launch pad.
Dr Rais, who was watching a rocket launch live for the first time, said he was “very proud and jubilant. This has expended Malaysia’s technological leap into the future as a successful nation. The challenge now is whether young Malaysians can one day create their own rockets to send into space,” he said.
Dr Rais also said the Government would work closely with private corporations to develop a training programme for students interested in outer space advancements.
Astro TV chief executive officer Rohana Rozhan said besides providing a backup for Measat-3, the new satellite would enable the company to introduce more products and services.
Later at a press conference in Moscow, Measat vice-president of engineering and operations Dr Ali R. Evadi said the satellite was in the transfer orbit where it would remain for about a week before moving into the designated 91.50E orbital hotslot.
The satellite with a 15-year life span successfully separated from the launch vehicle at 12.15pm Malaysian time.
PMR 2007 top-scorers K. Chandra Sekhar, Cliff Asher, Ahmad Ruiz, Lina Na’ilah and Edmund Lau from Malaysia were among a group of 14 from Indonesia, India, Britain and the Philippines who were on an all-expense paid trip to observe the launch and the Russian space industry.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy lashed out on Monday at the practice of wearing the Muslim burqa, insisting the full-body religious gown is a sign of the "debasement" of women and that it won't be welcome in France.
The French leader expressed support for a recent call by dozens of legislators to create a parliamentary commission to study a small but growing trend of wearing the full-body garment in France.
In the first presidential address in 136 years to a joint session of France's two houses of parliament, Sarkozy laid out his support for a ban even before the panel has been approved - braving critics who fear the issue is a marginal one and could stigmatize Muslims in France.
"In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity," Sarkozy said to extended applause in a speech at the Chateau of Versailles southwest of Paris.
"The burqa is not a religious sign, it's a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement - I want to say it solemnly," he said. "It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic."
A top al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan says his men 'will' use Pakistan's nuclear weapons against the US, should they be able to get their hands on any.
"God willing, the nuclear weapons will not fall into the hands of the Americans and the Mujahideen would take them and use them against the Americans," Mustafa Abu al-Yazid (Photo) said in an interview with al-Jazeera television.
The interview comes after US and Indian officials raised concerns over the safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal amid growing insurgency across the country.
Officials in Islamabad, meanwhile, have ruled out the possibility of the nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the militants.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari maintains that his country has a strong command-and-control system for its nuclear weapons.
However, al-Yazid believes that pro-Taliban militants in Pakistan are capable of overpowering the military in the northwestern parts of the country. "We expect that the Pakistani army would be defeated (in Swat) and that would be its end everywhere, God willing," he said.
The military claims to have killed nearly 1,700 militants since it launched a crackdown in the Swat valley and its adjoining districts two months ago.
This is while South Waziristan, in the lawless border region with Afghanistan, has been hit by air raids and military shelling in recent days.
The US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 has turned the restive tribal belt between the two neighbors into a scene of daily violence. Courtesy: Press TV, Al Jazeera