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World datelines

Afghanistan: Search

SALANG PASS — Wails of sadness echoed across a snowcapped mountaintop Tuesday as relatives grieved over 44 people aboard a passenger plane that crashed into a northern Afghan range a day earlier.

Government and NATO rescue helicopters whirred overhead in a so-far fruitless search for the wreckage of the Pamir Airways flight, which vanished with no distress call while flying from the city of Kunduz to the capital, Kabul.

Three British citizens and an American were among the passengers.

Britain: Newspapers

LONDON — The British Library said Wednesday it was digitizing up to 40 million pages of newspapers, including fragile dailies dating back three and a half centuries.

Once digitized, the British newspapers documenting local, regional and national life spanning to the 1700s will be fully searchable and accessible online, the national library said.

The vast majority of the British Library's 750 million pages of newspapers — the largest collections in the world — are currently available only on microfilm or bound in bulky volumes. Thousands of researchers have to make a trip to an archive building just outside London to look through them.

Malawi: Gays convicted

BLANTYRE — A judge convicted a gay couple Tuesday of charges that could send them to jail for more than a decade following an engagement celebration, a ruling activists fear could send others into hiding and hamper the fight against AIDS.

Malawi's government has been defiant in the face of international criticism over the couple's prosecution since they were arrested in December.

Mexico: Police quit

MEXICO CITY — The bulk of a small Mexican town's police force has quit after armed men ambushed and wounded two of their officers.

The Guerrero state police said Tuesday it has deployed 20 officers who will patrol the town of La Union until further notice.

The resignation of the six officers Monday evening came two days after their colleagues were ambushed.

Haiti: President

ARCAHAIE — Surrounded by waving banners of blue and red, Haitian President Rene Preval pledged to step down as scheduled next year, rebuking critics who allege he is using the post-earthquake emergency to hold onto power.

Preval told thousands celebrating Flag Day in the seaside town of Arcahaie that he will step down at the end of his term, Feb. 7. The two-term leader sparked protests this month when he adopted a decree that would extend his term by up to three months if a planned presidential election is not held by the end of November.

Israel: Skeletons

JERUSALEM — Excavators rushing to clear ground for a museum dedicated to tolerance in Jerusalem have damaged many remains while exhuming more than 1,000 skeletons from a medieval Muslim cemetery, a leading Israeli newspaper reported Tuesday.

Israel's Antiquities Authority, which has been overseeing the controversial project, confirmed skeletons had been removed from the cemetery but denied that the remains were mistreated.

Poland: Flooding

WARSAW — Flooding in southern Poland has killed at least five people, and officials closed the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial site on Tuesday to protect its Holocaust archives and artifacts.

Heavy rains that began in central Europe last weekend also are causing flooding in areas of Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.