WORLD IN BRIEF: Hurricane Karl heads toward central Mexico

Hurricane Karl heads toward central Mexico

VERACRUZ, Mexico — Hurricane Karl smashed into Mexico’s Gulf Coast on Friday, creating havoc in the major port city of Veracruz and forcing the country to shut down its only nuclear power plant and its central Gulf Coast oil platforms.

Karl’s eye had passed Veracruz by early afternoon and sustained winds dropped to 90 mph as it headed southwest toward central Mexico, according to U.S. Hurricane Center. It had sustained winds of 115 mph when it hit land at midday about 10 miles northwest of the city.

The storm caused widespread damage, knocking down hundreds of trees, billboards and power poles and upending cars, said Veracruz civil protection chief Isidro Cano Luna.

Oman: No plans to free 2 other Americans

MUSCAT, Oman — Oman’s foreign minister said Friday he’s not aware of any plans for Iran to release two other Americans still being held there, but that his country stands willing to act as an intermediary between Tehran and Washington.

The Gulf sultanate played a key role in helping mediate the release of American Sarah Shourd from Iran on Tuesday.

She has been staying in Oman with her mother since then but is planning to travel to New York today, her aunt Karen Sandys told The Associated Press.

Sandys, who spoke to Shourd by phone on Thursday, said her niece is happy to be free and is now focused on securing the release of two other Americans with whom she was arrested last year — Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal. They are still being held in a Tehran prison.

Bore hole for rescue reaches trapped miners

SANTIAGO, Chile — Rescuers achieved a key breakthrough in efforts to rescue 33 trapped miners on Friday, reaching the caverns where they are imprisoned with a bore hole that will now be widened so that they can be pulled to freedom.

Atacama region Gov. Ximena Matas said the T130 probe had reached the mine area 2,070 feet beneath the surface, near the chamber where the men have taken refuge.

The breakthrough means the rescue could come a little sooner than previously expected, Mining Minister Laurence Golborne said. The government had said previously that if all went as planned, the miners could be pulled out in early November.