Climber missing after avalanche

SEATTLE — An avalanche on Mount Rainier sent a mass of snow cascading down a slope early Saturday, burying at least four people, a national park spokeswoman said, and at least one climber remained missing more than 12 hours later.

A search was under way on Mount Rainier, about 60 miles east of Seattle, for the missing climber and a skier reported in the area who may also have been missing, said Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Patty Wold.

At about 4:45 a.m. Saturday, several climbing teams were overtaken by the slab avalanche that occurred at 12,500 feet when a large plate of snow broke away from the mountain.

The avalanche was several thousand feet wide.

A helicopter from the U.S. Army Reserve out of Fort Lewis airlifted two injured climbers and six rescuers from the upper mountain Saturday afternoon.

Wold said she thinks the missing person may have been climbing alone.

Parishioners protest closing of churches

BOSTON — Parishioners who recently lost appeals to the Vatican to reopen their Boston-area churches will continue round-the-clock vigils and plan to appeal directly to Pope Benedict XVI.

The leader of a parishioners' group says five parishes closed by the Archdiocese of Boston in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal will continue sit-ins they've held for the past five years.

Peter Borre said the parishes also will file a formal appeal to the pope. He says the group will boost its outreach to parishes nationwide that also are targeted for closure.

Last month, the Vatican rejected final appeals by 10 closed parishes.

The archdiocese announced in 2004 it was closing dozens of churches, citing falling attendance, a priest shortage and financial problems.