By Jeremy Laurence KABUL (Reuters) - Former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah has opened a lead in the Afghan presidential race, the latest official tally of votes released on Sunday showed, although half of the votes have yet to be counted. Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission said initial results based on almost 50 percent of the vote out of 34 provinces showed Abdullah in the lead with 44.4 percent, followed by ex-world bank official Ashraf Ghani with 33.2 percent of the votes it said were not fraudulent. "These statistics that we shared with you are partial and are changeable," Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, chairman of the election commission, told a news conference on Sunday. Final results are due on May 14, and a run-off, if needed will take place in late May. A run-off is seen as a risky proposition in Afghanistan, given high security concerns, the prospect of a low turnout and the cost - the bill for the first round was put at more than $100 million.
By Gopal Sharma KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Rescuers have given up searching for three sherpa guides missing two days after the deadliest ever accident on Nepal's Mount Everest killed at least 13 and shocked the mountaineering world. It not possible to find the three missing persons, dead or alive," said Lakpa Sherpa, of the Himalayan Rescue Operation, speaking from base camp, the starting point for Everest expeditions. The helicopters used in the search and to ferry bodies from the mountain have been called back to Kathmandu, an army spokesman said. Rescuers brought six bodies from the base camp to Kathmandu at the weekend and have kept them at a sherpa Buddhist monastery in accordance with tradition.
JINDO, South Korea (AP) — The following is a portion of the transcript released Sunday by the South Korean coast guard of the conversation between the ferry that sank Wednesday and the Jindo Vessel Traffic Services Center (VTS) on Jindo island. The ferry Sewol issued its distress call to another VTS center before these communications began. The Associated Press translated the transcript from Korean. The names of other ships included in the transcript are omitted at the request of South Korean authorities.
The Archbishop of Canterbury said the Church of England still held an indirect investment in short-term loan company Wonga, even though he branded its activities "morally wrong" nine months ago. Archbishop Justin Welby, leader of the world's 80 million Anglicans, said last year he had been embarrassed to learn that the church's pension fund had invested a relatively small sum in a U.S. venture capital firm that led Wonga's 2009 fundraising. Shortly before that investment came to light, Welby had pledged to drive such lenders out of business by backing rival credit unions as he made a scathing attack on so-called "payday" lenders such as Wonga, which charge high interest rates on loans that are typically repaid when borrowers receive their next paychecks. But on Sunday in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, Welby said he had been unable to force the church's investment arm, the Church Commissioners, to exit the investment.