Irrawaddy delta to get cyclone aid

YANGON, Myanmar - Aid agencies geared up yesterday to go into Myanmar's cyclone-hit Irrawaddy delta after the country's ruling junta vowed to open its doors to help ahead of an international donors meeting.

The ability to assess the situation will be critical in securing pledges from foreign governments, and the junta's about-face was seen as a concession to get more aid when 45 potential donor nations meet today in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city.

An estimate released yesterday by the United Nations said that while about 42 percent of the 2.4 million people affected by the storm had received emergency assistance, only 23 percent of the two million people living in the hardest-hit areas had been reached. The storm has left about 78,000 people dead and 56,000 missing.

- AP

Reforms unveiled in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - The senior party in Pakistan's ruling coalition yesterday unveiled a long-awaited package of constitutional reforms aimed at sharply reducing President Pervez Musharraf's powers.

But Musharraf's bitterest enemies, including lawyers' groups, are demanding that the unpopular president be driven from office altogether.

Under the proposed reforms the president no longer would have the power to dissolve parliament or to appoint provincial governors and the head of Pakistan's military.

- Los Angeles Times

Colombia says rebel leader dead

BOGOTA, Colombia - Colombia's Defense Ministry said yesterday that it had information that the legendary leader of Latin America's largest guerrilla army was dead.

In a statement, the ministry said that "we have learned through different military intelligence sources" that the commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, Manuel "Sureshot" Marulanda, died March 26, apparently of a heart attack.

Marulanda, about 80, had led the peasant-based FARC since its founding in 1964.

- AP

Elsewhere:

A shark injured

a 49-year-old American surfer yesterday off the Pacific coast of Mexico in the third attack in a month. A day earlier, a Mexican surfer was killed by a shark off a nearby beach and a San Francisco man was killed nearby a month ago. A local official said the American attacked yesterday lost a thumb but managed to reach a hospital on his own.

Police opened fire

on a violent demonstration by members of one of India's lowest castes yesterday, killing four protesters and taking the death toll in two days of protests to 20, an official said. Gujjars began protesting Friday in western India after the government refused to reclassify their caste at a lower social level so they could qualify for government jobs and university spots.

A moderate earthquake

shook Colombia's capital, Bogota, yesterday afternoon, sending residents running and overturning furniture. There were no immediate reports of deaths or major damage in the 5.6-magnitude quake.