Egypt's military: No hand in vote

CAIRO - The head of Egypt's armed forces Saturday rejected accusations that the military is throwing its weight behind a candidate in next month's presidential elections a day after thousands of people demonstrated against the ruling generals.

The statement came from Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who leads the military council that has ruled Egypt since Hosni Mubarak's ouster last year. Protesters have accused the generals of trying to manipulate the May presidential vote.

Speaking at a military exercise Saturday, Tantawi said the armed forces were focused on handing power to an elected civilian government, not on hanging on to power. The elections were intended to be a landmark in Egypt's transition: the first free choosing of a president after decades of authoritarian rule.

The military is to hand over power by the end of June. Tantawi has insisted, however, that Egypt's new constitution be written before the presidential vote, raising fears that the deadline to hand over power may be pushed back. - AP

Dutch train crash leaves scores hurt

AMSTERDAM - Two busy passenger trains collided head-on near an Amsterdam park Saturday, injuring scores of people, including more than 50 seriously, a police spokesman said.

National Police Corps spokesman Ed Kraszewski told Amsterdam local news network AT5 that about 70 people had minor injuries and 51 were "seriously or very seriously injured."

AT5 posted photos on its website showing two trains that appeared to have collided head-on. Both trains were still on the rails, and the double-decker intercity train sustained damage near some doors close to the impact. The crash caused chaotic train traffic around western Amsterdam and halted all trains between the city's Central Station and Schiphol Airport. - AP

Grounded liner to be removed

MILAN, Italy - Costa Crociere SpA said Saturday that work to remove the Costa Concordia cruise ship from its rocky perch off Tuscany will begin early next month and is expected to take 12 months.

Costa said in a statement that the U.S.-owned company Titan Salvage won the bid to remove the ship, which struck rocks off the tourist-dependent island of Giglio on Jan. 13, when the captain made an unauthorized maneuver too close to shore.

The plan foresees removing the ship in one piece and towing it to an Italian port. Workers completed the removal of fuel from the Concordia on March 24, and Costa said environmental protection would be a "top priority" during the ship's removal. - AP

Elsewhere:

A Sherpa who was guiding climbers on an Everest expedition fell into a crevasse Saturday and died. Tilak Pandey of Nepal's Ministry of Tourism and Mountaineering identified the victim as Namgyal Tshering Sherpa and said he had scaled Mount Everest twice before. On Wednesday, experienced Sherpa climber Karsang Namgyal died from altitude sickness.