News Wrap: Protests Continue in Bahrain, Yemen
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The turmoil in Libya sent stocks down sharply on Wall Street and pushed oil prices even higher. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 178 points to close above 12,212. The Nasdaq fell 77 points to close at 2,756. And the price of oil jumped 6 percent to top $95 a barrel, its highest close in two years.
A host of other protests took place again today in North Africa and the Middle East. In Yemen, hundreds of people rallied in the capital of Sanaa, calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down. The group scuffled with pro-regime members.
And in Bahrain, members of the military joined thousands of people marching against the monarchy. The crowd carried red-and-white flags across the capital city, Manama. And the king today ordered some political prisoners set free.
A powerful earthquake devastated the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, today. At least 75 people were killed, and that toll was expected to grow.
We have a report from Tom Clarke of Independent Television News.
TOM CLARKE: In the center of Christchurch, some buildings are snapped in two, others reduced to rubble. It doesn’t matter where they stood or what they stood for.
The quake struck at lunchtime, caught on camera inside this person’s home.
MAN: We have someone trapped down under the building. If you’re heading down this way…
TOM CLARKE: Workers downtown were caught in collapsing office blocks or in rubble outside on their way back to their desks. Lunch hour turned to terror in an instant.
WOMAN: It’s my building. That’s our work.
WOMAN: That’s your workplace?
MAN: Got hit with a table, you know, the table in the restaurant. Yes, and two and three people, they was falling on me, yes. So…
TOM CLARKE: The landmark cathedral was continuing to collapse after the shaking stopped, as if nerves weren’t shattered enough.
REV. PETER BECK, Christchurch Cathedral: It is just huge. It’s huge. And, you know, the buildings are buildings. The really important thing are the people. And we just don’t know if there are people under this rubble. I fear there are.
TOM CLARKE: This large office block collapsed on itself.
WOMAN: OK. Just stay away from the edge.
TOM CLARKE: The stranded were rescued by fire crews or their colleagues. Others were busy rescuing themselves.
MAN: It was a bit of a drama knocking out the window, and then (INAUDIBLE) down the side of the building, but the stairwell’s completely gone, 17 stories, but just both sets of stairs gone. So it’s just a great gaping chasm.
TOM CLARKE: And then there were the aftershocks, bringing down more billings softened up by the initial blow.
MAN: Can you call out to us, please?
TOM CLARKE: Voices can still be heard in the rubble of many buildings. Working through the night, rescuers have freed more than 100.
HARI SREENIVASAN: Search-and-rescue teams from the U.S. and other countries were on the way to New Zealand to help.
A pair of Iranian naval vessels passed through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean Sea. It was the first time that has happened since Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979. The frigate and supply ship transited the waterway. Reports from the canal authority said they were bound for a training mission off Syria. Israel criticized the move as part of an Iranian bid for control of the Middle East.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.