Xinhua world news summary at 0030 GMT, May 18

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RIO DE JANEIRO -- At least 11 people were killed and dozens were injured after a head-on collision between a bus and a van in Brazil's central-west state of Mato Grosso, bordering Paraguay and Bolivia, the Federal Highway Police said Tuesday.

Initial investigations showed the two vehicles collided in the town of Sorriso, in the north of Mato Grosso, because the bus driver fell asleep at the wheel, the agency told local press. (Brazil-Accident-Casualties)

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LONDON -- Hundreds of people gathered in front of the British Home Office on Tuesday to protest against the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States, denouncing it as politically motivated and a grave threat to freedom of press.

After Assange waged several rounds of appeal battle spanning months, Britain's Westminster Magistrate's Court issued a formal order in April to extradite him to the United States to face espionage charges. (Britain-Julian Assange-Extradition)

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HELSINKI -- Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto on Tuesday signed the letter informing the NATO about his country's interest in engaging in accession talks.

Earlier in the day, the country's Parliament had endorsed the plan in a vote of 188 in favor and eight against. (Finland-NATO-Membership)

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KIEV -- The evacuation of Ukrainian troops from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol was the only possible formula for their rescue, Ukraine's government-run Ukrinform news agency reported Tuesday, citing Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar.

"Unfortunately, military unblocking is impossible in this situation. There can be no other formula of salvation than the one currently in use. It was the only way out," Malyar said. (Ukraine-Azovstal Plant-Troops) Enditem

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