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News Wrap: Indian Monsoon Kills at Least 48

September 26, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: Monsoon rains left wide sections of India underwater today. Officials reported at least 48 people have been killed in the north and the east. Hundreds of thousands more were stranded by the raging water and forced to find shelter in the hills and in treetops. The rain was forecast to last at least two more days, delaying rescue efforts.

In Libya, rebel fighters stepped up their push to conquer Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown. The attempt to take Sirte began two weeks ago, but it was turned back by fierce resistance from pro-Gadhafi forces. There was more fighting on Sunday, as the rebels again drove into the city, and NATO continued its air campaign there, hitting eight military targets over the weekend.

Meanwhile, a U.N. spokesman said hundreds of civilians have been forced to flee the city as food and medicine runs short.

PANOS MOUMTZIS, United Nations Humanitarian Aid coordinator for Libya: We’re extremely concerned about the protection of civilians. We’re extremely concerned about civilian people being caught up in the middle of the conflict, regardless of which side it is coming. And I think that what we have tried to do, while we cannot be inside this location at the moment, we mobilized humanitarian assistance, food, medical supplies, to the outskirts of the city.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Separately, the rebel governing council said Sunday that it has found a mass grave holding the bodies of some 1,200 prisoners. They apparently died at the hands of Gadhafi’s security forces in 1996.

Some of the famed Dead Sea Scrolls went online today, 2,000 years after they were written. The five most important scrolls are now searchable to anyone under a partnership between Google and Israel’s national museum. Users can scroll through the text and instantly translate selected passages into English.

Approximately 900 of the scrolls came to light in the mid-20th century. They have helped the understanding of the development of the Bible and Christianity.

The first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, Wangari Maathai, died Sunday night of ovarian cancer. The Kenyan environmentalist began her work with the Green Belt Movement starting in the 1970s. The goal was to reforest the country by paying poor women to plant trees.

Maathai spoke to the NewsHour in 2005.

WANGARI MAATHAI, Nobel Peace Prize winner: Most of all, you are dealing with people who are empowered, who feel that they can make a change in their own lives, within their own environment and utilizing the resources that they have around them. That’s really wonderful. That transformation, that feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction is really wonderful to see happening to other people.

HARI SREENIVASAN: Wangari Maathai won her Nobel Prize in 2004. At her death, she was 71 years old.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.