Volcano erupting on Galapagos isle

QUITO, Ecuador - A volcano on the largest of the Galapagos Islands has begun erupting, and authorities are evaluating possible dangers to the island's unique plant and animal life, including giant tortoises and marine iguanas, officials said yesterday.

Rangers and tour guides spotted lava flowing down the northeastern flank of the Cerro Azul volcano on the seahorse-shaped island of Isabela late Thursday, the Galapagos National Park said in a statement.

Ecuador's Geophysics Institute said that satellite data and a flyover of the island by park officials showed a "small amount of ash" coming out of the volcano, located on the southwestern edge of the island.

The eruption is not endangering people on the island, park official Vinicio Pauta said.

- AP

Vatican reiterates: No female priests

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican insisted yesterday that it was properly following Christian tradition by excluding females from the priesthood and issued a new warning that women taking part in ordinations would be excommunicated.

The move dashed the hopes both of women seeking to be priests and of Catholics who see that as an option for a church struggling to recruit men. A top Vatican official said the church acted after what it described as "so-called ordinations" held in various parts of the world.

Msgr. Angelo Amato of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the Vatican wanted to provide bishops with a clear response on the issue.

"The church does not feel authorized to change the will of its founder Jesus Christ," Amato said in an interview prepared for Vatican Radio that was released to reporters. The reference is to Christ's having chosen only men as his Apostles.

- AP

Fishermen ram boat into activists'

ANKARA, Turkey - Turkish tuna fishermen rammed their boat into a Greenpeace ship yesterday and pelted it with lead fishing weights, the environmental group said. No one was injured.

The fishing vessel was among several that swarmed the Arctic Sunrise, which was carrying activists campaigning against overfishing in the Mediterranean. The boat rammed the Greenpeace ship at high speed, said Yesim Aslan, a spokeswoman for the group.

The barrage of lead weights damaged a helicopter that the activists had used earlier in the day to document the vessels' activities, Aslan said.

- AP

Elsewhere:

In Yemen, a gunman

opened fire in a mosque in the predominantly Shiite northern town of Kohal, killing eight worshipers and wounding dozens, a security official said.

Israel said it would

reconsider a policy that prevents Palestinian students from leaving the Gaza Strip to pursue their education overseas as the United States pushed for recipients of the prestigious Fulbright scholarship to be allowed out. The U.S. effort came after seven Fulbright recipients were informed their awards had been withdrawn because of their inability to leave Gaza.