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NEW ZEALAND/Toxic gases found inside mine

A drilling team Wednesday broke a narrow shaft through to the section of a Pike River Coal Ltd. coal mine where 29 workers have been missing for almost six days and was greeted by a blast of potentially deadly gases from inside. Officials have become increasingly pessimistic about the chances of pulling the men alive from a network of tunnels some 1 1/2 miles deep in the side of a mountain, following a powerful explosion Friday. Nothing has been heard from the missing miners since. Toxic and potentially explosive gases have kept rescuers from entering the mine.

INDIA/Dalai Lama seeks to give up duties

The Dalai Lama wants to give up his lesser known role as the ceremonial leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile, an aide said yesterday, in what appeared to be another step in the aging leader's efforts to prepare his people for life after he dies. However, he will remain the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and the focal point of Tibetan national aspirations, said spokesman Tenzin Taklha. In recent years, the 75-year-old has sought to reduce his active role in the administration. Since the 2001 election of a Tibetan prime minister-in-exile, the Dalai Lama has considered himself semiretired, Taklha said.

ARUBA/Bone not from missing U.S. teen

A jawbone found on an Aruba beach does not belong to missing Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, prosecutors in the Dutch Caribbean island said Tuesday. The jawbone is human, though it is unclear who it belongs to. Dutch investigators compared the lone tooth on the bone with dental records supplied by Holloway's family and "it can be ruled out that the bone fragment came from Natalee Holloway," the prosecutors said. The bone was found recently by a tourist on a beach, and Aruba prosecutors had asked forensic scientists in the Netherlands to analyze it.

AUSTRIA/Seized paintings should be returned

A panel has recommended that seven paintings by Austrian artists contained in a prestigious Vienna art collection be returned because they were either seized by the Nazis or given up against the will of their Jewish owners. The paintings - five by Egon Schiele of the 20th century and two by Anton Romako, a 19th-century artist - belong to the Leopold Museum Private Foundation. The recommendations by the Culture Ministry Tuesday are nonbinding. The former owners are Karl Maylaender and Moriz Eisler, Jews who were persecuted by the Nazis. Names of possible heirs were not given.

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