Afghanistan landslide kills 350; 2,000+ missing

KABUL, Afghanistan - A landslide triggered by heavy rain buried large sections of a remote northeastern Afghan village yesterday, killing at least 350 people and leaving more than 2,000 missing. Villagers looked on helplessly and the governor appealed for shovels to help dig through the mass of mud that flattened every home in its path.

The mountainous area in Badakhshan province has experienced days of heavy rain and flooding, and the side of a cliff collapsed onto the village of Hobo Barik around midday. Landslides and avalanches are frequent in Afghanistan, but yesterday's was one of the deadliest.

Gov. Shah Waliullah Adeeb said more than 2,000 people were missing after the landslide buried some 300 homes - about a third of all the houses in the area. At least 350 people were confirmed dead, said Ari Gaitanis, a spokesman from the U.N. Assistance Mission. He said the U.N. was working with authorities on the ground to rescue people still trapped. Adeeb said rescue crews were working but didn't have enough equipment.

Obama: Botched execution highlights problems

WASHINGTON - President Obama yesterday called the botched execution of an Oklahoma inmate "deeply troubling" and announced that he's going to ask the attorney general to analyze problems surrounding the application of the death penalty.

In his first public comments on the case of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett, Obama, who formerly taught constitutional law, expressed conflicting feelings about the death penalty and said Americans need to "ask ourselves some difficult and profound questions around these issues." Obama said the death penalty is warranted in some cases, specifically mentioning mass murder and child murder, and said Lockett's crimes were "heinous." But he said the death penalty's application in the U.S. is problematic, with evidence of racial bias and eventual exoneration of some death-row inmates.

The state of Oklahoma attempted to carry out Lockett's death sentence Tuesday by lethal injection, using a drug combination that had not been previously used in the state. Lockett convulsed violently during the execution and tried to lift his head after a doctor declared him unconscious, then died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after the execution began.

Take that, winter

WASHINGTON - The American economy shrugged off the end of a brutal winter last month, rebounding with the biggest hiring surge in two years and suggesting that the job market's gains could endure.

Employers added 288,000 jobs across industries from manufacturing to construction to accounting. Even local governments hired. The unemployment rate sank to 6.3 percent, its lowest point since 2008, from 6.7 percent.

But the rate fell that far because many fewer people began looking for work in April, thereby reducing the number of unemployed. The proportion of Americans who either have a job or are looking for one dropped to a three-decade low.

- Associated Press