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World Briefing - 2003-02-27

In northwestern China, mourners are burying victims of Monday's devastating earthquake. According to Chinese State media, the death toll has risen to 266, including several relief workers killed by aftershocks. Rescue teams are bringing in food, blankets and tents to tens of thousands of survivors. The earthquake, which measured six-point-eight on the Richter scale, devastated areas populated by ethnic Uighurs. More than 4,000 people were injured.

Islamabad and Kabul have expressed shock and sorrow after an Afghan Government minister was killed Monday in a plane crash off Pakistan's southern coast. Afghan Minister for Petroleum and Mines, Juma Mohammad Mohammadi, was on his way to inspect a copper mine in northwestern Pakistan when the small plane went down. Eight people were killed. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the crash is a major loss for the country.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has reached an agreement with three parties on forming a right-leaning coalition government. Mr. Sharon's Likud Party issued a statement early Wednesday, saying the new government will include the secular Shinui Party, the right-wing National Union Party and the National Religious Party. Meanwhile, Abdallah al-Saba, a senior member of the militant group Islamic Jihad was killed Sunday in a shootout with Israeli troops, after refusing to vacate a house slated by Israel for demolition. And a 13-year-old Palestinian boy is dead, and at least 10 others, including five children, wounded in the Gaza Strip, after Israeli forces opened fire on a Palestinian refugee camp near the Egyptian border.

And in the United States, doctors say a 17-year-old Mexican girl has died of complications after a second failed heart and lung transplant. Doctors at Duke Medical Center in the southern U.S. state of North Carolina pronounced Jesica Santillan dead Saturday. Doctors say she suffered brain damage shortly after her second heart and lung transplant. She had been in critical condition since February seventh, when doctors mistakenly transplanted organs with the wrong blood type.