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Scores are killed as strong quake rocks eastern Turkey

ISTANBUL — At least 138 people were killed and about 350 were injured after a powerful earthquake struck eastern Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a news conference early Monday. The death toll was expected to rise, perhaps significantly, with many people reported to be stuck beneath dozens of collapsed buildings.

The earthquake, measured at a magnitude of 7.2 by the Turkish seismic institute, occurred in the early afternoon on Sunday in Van province, not far from the border with Iran. It was centered near the city of Van and the nearby town of Ercis, and it was felt strongly in nearby villages and some parts of northern Iraq, the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency reported.

Speaking in Ercis, Erdogan said that the death toll in the center of Van was 93, with 45 dead in Ercis. Many of the 55 buildings that collapsed along the main road in Ercis were residential, which could raise the death toll. Almost all the sun-dried brick houses in nearby villages were also destroyed, he added. Early Monday, officials said that 970 buildings had collapsed in and around the city of Van.

—Sebnem Arsu, The New York Times

Crown prince of Saudi Arabia dies “abroad”

CAIRO — Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdel Aziz Al Saud, the heir apparent to the Saudi throne and one of the kingdom’s most powerful princes until illness sapped his strength in recent years, has died, raising complex succession issues at a time of political turmoil in the region.

The Royal Court announced the death Saturday, saying the elderly prince had died “abroad.” U.S. officials confirmed that he died at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

His death leaves Prince Nayef, the powerful and feared interior minister who has led the battle against both Islamic extremists and freedom of expression, expected to be chosen as the next crown prince. But for the first time the appointment will most likely come from the new family Allegiance Council, which is expected to weigh a broader range of candidates, rather than from the king alone.

Sultan had reportedly been battling colon cancer since 2004, and had left the kingdom for treatment for up to a year at a time since 2008.

—Neil MacFarquhar, The New York Times

Not-guilty plea in plot to kill Saudi ambassador to U.S.

The Iranian-American man charged in a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the United States pleaded not guilty Monday before a federal judge in Manhattan.

The defendant, Manssor J. Arbabsiar, a used-car salesman from Corpus Christi, Texas, has been accused of conspiring to hire assassins from a Mexican drug gang for $1.5 million to kill the ambassador, Adel al-Jubeir.

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has said that the plot had been “directed and approved by elements of the Iranian government and, specifically, senior members of the Quds Force,” part of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have said in court papers that Arbabsiar, 56, who was arrested on Sept. 29 at Kennedy International Airport, repeatedly waived his rights to have a lawyer and to a speedy appearance in court. They said he had “confessed to his own role in the plot to kill the ambassador and provided extremely valuable intelligence.”

Arbabsiar was not taken before a judge or given a lawyer until the day the charges were announced publicly, on Oct. 11.

—Benjamin Weiser, The New York Times

Islamists head to triumph in Tunisian vote

TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisia’s moderate Islamist political party emerged Monday as the acknowledged leader in elections for a constitutional assembly and began talks to form a unity government with a coalition of liberals in a rare alliance that party leaders hailed as an inclusive model for countries emerging from the tumult of the Arab Spring.

By Monday afternoon, Tunisian liberal parties said they were entering discussions to form a government led by their Islamist rival, Ennahda, after it swept to a plurality of about 40 percent in preliminary vote tallies.

The acceptance of the results by rivals signaled the beginning of a partnership seldom seen in the Arab world, where Islamists’ few opportunities for electoral victories have sometimes led to harsh crackdown or civil war.

—David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

Banks are flooded with cash they can’t use

Bankers have an odd-sounding problem these days: They are awash in cash.

Droves of consumers and businesses unnerved by the lurching markets have been taking their money out of risky investments and socking it away in bank accounts, where it does little to stimulate the economy.

Although financial institutions are not yet turning away customers, they are trying to discourage some depositors from parking that cash with them. With fewer attractive lending and investment options for that money, it is harder for the banks to turn it around for a healthy profit.

In August, Bank of New York Mellon warned that it would impose a 0.13 percentage point fee on the deposits of certain clients who were moving huge piles of cash in and out of their accounts.

—Eric Dash and Nelson D. Schwartz, The New York Times