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story.lead_photo.caption China’s new aircraft carrier leaves the Dalian port for sea trials Sunday in this photo provided by the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

China launches first home-built carrier

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- China launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier to begin sea trials on Sunday, reaching another milestone in the expansion of the country's navy.

The aircraft carrier, as yet unnamed, left its berth at a shipyard in the northeastern port of Dalian after a blow of its horn and a display of fireworks, according to reports in state news media.

The Chinese navy -- officially the People's Liberation Army Navy -- already has one operational carrier, the Liaoning, which it bought unfinished from Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union. That ship joined the Chinese fleet in 2012 and began its first operations four years later, putting China in the small group of seafaring powers that maintain aircraft carriers, led by the United States, which has 11.

It remains unclear when the second carrier will be commissioned and officially become the fleet's new flagship.

23 Indians die in dust storm, lightning

LUCKNOW, India -- A powerful dust storm, heavy rain and lightning struck parts of India on Sunday, killing at least 23 people, injuring more than 40 and taking the death toll in similar unseasonal storms this month to 157.

The storm, with a wind speed of up to 45 mph, demolished dozens of homes and uprooted trees and power lines in northern Uttar Pradesh state, government official Avneesh Awasthi said. At least nine people lost their lives and another 23 were injured in various parts of the state, Awasthi said.

Another two people were killed and 18 were injured in the Indian capital, New Delhi, the Press Trust of India news agency said. At least 12 people were killed by lightning in the Howrah, Western Midnapore and North Pargana districts of West Bengal state, the agency said.

The dust storm also swept parts of southern Andhra Pradesh state.

Similar unseasonal powerful dust storms and thundershowers in the past two weeks have left 200 people injured in five Indian states.

Catalans clear path for vote on leader

MADRID -- Catalonia's most uncompromising separatists said Sunday that they won't block the former leader of a pro-independence group from being elected as the restive Spanish region's new leader.

The far-left Popular Unity Candidacy party decided that its four regional parliament members will abstain during an investiture session scheduled for today, which should leave another lawmaker, Quim Torra, with more "yes" than "no" votes.

Torra's election is expected to end the Spanish government's takeover of running Catalonia's affairs that started with an illegal declaration of independence by the regional parliament in October.

Separatist parties maintained a slim majority in regional elections in December, but Spanish courts have blocked their previous efforts to elect two separatists in jail awaiting trial and fugitive former regional President Carles Puigdemont.

They have until May 22 to form a new government or new elections will be triggered.

Torra failed to be elected during an initial vote Saturday, when the party's abstention meant he fell short of winning the absolute majority needed.

Kashmir bridge collapse kills students

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan -- An old wooden bridge over a fast-moving river in Kashmir collapsed as dozens of students were taking pictures on it, leading to at least five deaths Sunday.

Javed Ayub, a senior tourism department official in Pakistani-administered Kashmir, said 14 students were rescued after the bridge collapsed and that civil and military rescue teams were searching for 11 others.

Ayub said rescue workers recovered the bodies of five drowned students. The students, most in their early 20s, were enrolled in the medical college at Faisalabad in eastern Punjab province. He said some students from a college in Lahore were also among those who fell into the river.

Ayub said the hanging wooden bridge was designed for locals to use in small numbers.

Police official Mohammad Siddiq said eight of the rescued students were injured and airlifted to Muzaffarabad in a military helicopter for medical aid. He said the incident took place near the picnic point of Kundal Shahi, some 47 miles north of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir.

Photo by AP/M.D. MUGHAL
Pakistani workers search for bodies Sunday at the site where a bridge collapsed in Kundal Shahi in the Kashmir region.

A Section on 05/14/2018

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