TAPACHULA - Ripping walls from concrete houses, smashing highways into pieces and dragging major bridges into their depths, muddy torrents raged across southern Mexico in flooding that has shocked the entire nation by its intensity. At least 33 people have drowned in the waters unleashed by seven straight days of rain.


BEIJING - A Chinese dissident group appealed to U.N. human rights chief Mary Robinson to intervene on behalf of a dissident's wife who was detained and beaten by police for trying to meet her. Chu Hailan, wife of imprisoned dissident Liu Nianchun, was held for eight hours.


PHNOM PENH - Police on motorcycles and soldiers scattered thousands of protesters who had marched and shouted for peace in Cambodia's capital after riot police fired point-blank into a crowd of demonstrators, critically wounding a student.


BANGKOK - To help the government overcome its economic crisis, a Buddhist monk has donated 800 pounds of gold worth $3.9 million that he collected from donors.


PARIS - Vu Van Mau, a prominent figure in South Vietnam and prime minister for five days before it fell to the Communist North in 1975, has died in Paris at age 84.

South Korea

SEOUL - Admitting it has been stung by rival North Korea's recent missile launch, South Korea said it will speed up work on its own rocket technology.


JAKARTA - More than 1,000 troops and police guarded the presidential palace to keep back student protesters who demanded that President B.J. Habibie lower soaring food prices or quit. It was the fourth straight day of bold student protest against Habibie, who is struggling with Indonesia's worst economic crisis in 30 years.


OSLO - A man stole an armored vehicle from a military repair shop in northern Norway and drove it through hedges and flower beds in a residential neighborhood before being arrested.


KATMANDU - Nepal has installed the first radar system at Katmandu airport. Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala inaugurated the $25 million system, built with help from Japan.


MARJAYOUN - Israeli planes fired rockets on suspected Hizbollah guerrilla targets in Lebanon shortly after the group killed four Israeli-backed militiamen in a roadside bomb attack.


ANKARA - Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz said his party would not propose a delay in a parliament-approved plan to hold an early general election next April.


TAIPEI - Canada's Industry Minister John Manley defied a demand from China that he cancel his current visit to Taiwan, saying his visit to the island was important and natural in business terms.


PARIS - Half of the French approve of gay marriages and more than a quarter of them think homosexuals living together should also be allowed to adopt children, an opinion poll said. But 99 percent of those surveyed still think the word "marriage" applies to a husband and wife with children while fewer than one-quarter of those responding would use it for homosexual couples.