HARI SREENIVASAN: The death toll neared 2,000 today in the earthquakes that ravaged western China last week, but search teams rescued three more survivors. State television showed an elderly women being taken to the hospital. She had been trapped since Wednesday, when her mud house collapsed. Relatives kept her alive by passing food and water to her through gaps in the wreckage.
In Pakistan, a pair of bombings killed 23 people and wounded 40 more in Peshawar. Nearly all of the victims were killed at a political rally for a party sympathetic to the Taliban. The target appeared to be police guarding the event.
The top two leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq have been killed. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made the announcement at a news conference in Baghdad. He said the two men died Sunday night in a joint operation involving Iraqi and U.S. troops near the city of Tikrit.
NOURI AL-MALIKI, prime minister, Iraq (through translator): I would like to announce that our forces were able to kill Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri. The intelligence information led to the arrest of many al-Qaida members during the operation that killed the two leaders who were forced to hide in a hole in the house which was surrounded by Iraqi forces.
HARI SREENIVASAN: U.S. military officials confirmed the killings. And, in Washington, Vice President Biden said the deaths were — quote — “potentially devastating blows to al-Qaida in Iraq.”
Iraq’s election review board ordered a recount today of ballots cast in Baghdad in last month’s election. Prime Minister al-Maliki has claimed fraud in the March vote for parliament. His bloc finished second, just behind a coalition led by Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.
Toyota will pay the U.S. government a record fine of $16.4 million for safety violations. The Transportation Department accused the automaker of failing to report accelerator problems in a timely manner. Toyota denied any wrongdoing, but said it wanted to avoid a protracted dispute. Also today, the company recalled the 2010 Lexus GX460, after “Consumer Reports” warned it’s prone to rolling over. For the record, Toyota is an underwriter of the “NewsHour.”
On Wall Street today, blue-chip stocks made up some of the ground that they lost on Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 73 points to close at 11092. But the Nasdaq fell one point to close at 2480.
The Russian government served notice today that a freeze on U.S. adoptions will stay in force until a new agreement is in place. Talks were to begin today, but the ash cloud over Europe prevented the U.S. delegation from getting to Moscow. The Russians imposed a freeze last week after a Tennessee woman sent her adopted son back to Russia by himself.