14 injured in train fire under English Channel

COQUELLES, France: A fire broke out yesterday on a train carrying trucks under the English Channel between England and France, injuring 14 people and shutting down traffic in the underwater rail tunnel, officials said. About 100 firefighters from both sides of the channel got the blaze under control, but it was not entirely extinguished hours later, said Georges Bos, a spokesman for France's Pas-de-Calais region, which was handling the emergency response. The train was carrying 32 people - mostly truck drivers accompanying their vehicles - when the blaze erupted at midafternoon about 7 miles from the French side, officials said. All were evacuated safely. The fire broke out on one of the trucks loaded on the train, but the truck drivers were in a a separate railcar. Traffic through the 30-mile tunnel was to remain suspended at least until today, French rail operator SNCF said.


Budget deficit rises 76% to $483 billion

WASHINGTON: The federal budget fell further into the red in August, pushing the deficit with one month left in the budget year to an all-time high. The Treasury Department reported yesterday that the deficit through the first 11 months of this budget year totaled $483.4 billion, up 76.2 percent from the same period a year ago. While that set an all-time high for a budget deficit through the first 11 months of a budget year, analysts say a surplus in September will push the deficit slightly below the current record-holder for an entire year, a $413 billion deficit set in 2004. The administration is projecting that the deficit for this budget year, which ends on Sept. 30, will total $389.4 billion. While slightly below the record in dollar terms, it would be more than double the 2007 deficit of $161.5 billion.


Israeli police find body, likely to be missing girl

JERUSALEM: Police divers searching a river yesterday pulled out a red duffel bag holding a small skull and bones they said probably was the body of a 4-year-old French girl believed killed by her mother's lover - the child's grandfather. The search for Rose Pizem and the tangled tale of her short life have riveted Israel for weeks - and given rise to much public soul-searching over how a child could disappear for months without anyone noticing. Autopsy results were pending, but police in Tel Aviv clearly believed the body was the blue-eyed, auburn-haired Rose, who disappeared in May. Rose's 45-year-old grandfather, Roni Ron, initially told police he struck and killed the little girl in a fit of rage and threw a suitcase containing her body into the Yarkon River in Tel Aviv. He has since claimed he confessed under duress.

Bolivian envoy to U.S. sent home in retaliation

LA PAZ, Bolivia: U.S. officials angered by Bolivian President Evo Morales' decision to expel Washington's ambassador for allegedly inciting opposition protesters responded yesterday by kicking out Bolivia's top diplomat. Earlier in the day, Bolivian officials told U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice they wanted to maintain ties. In a show of solidarity with his ally Morales, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave the U.S. ambassador to his country 72 hours to leave and announced the recall of Venezuela's ambassador to Washington.

40 prospective jurors chosen for O.J. trial

LOS ANGELES: A jury has been selected to decide whether O.J. Simpson and a co-defendant kidnapped and robbed two sports memorabilia dealers last year in Las Vegas. Twelve jurors and six alternates were seated yesterday after four days of sometimes contentious questioning by defense lawyers. Most prospective jurors have said they disagree with Simpson's 1995 acquittal in the slaying of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. But they insist they can be fair in the latest case. Clark County District Court Judge Jackie Glass says she wants to begin opening statements Monday.

Court rejects Basque self-determination vote

MADRID, Spain: Spain's highest court rejected a planned Oct. 25 referendum in the Basque region on self-determination, ruling last night that such an issue must be decided by all of Spain and that only the central government can call such a vote. The ruling was a stinging but not unexpected defeat for the Basque region's nationalist president, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, who was the driving force behind the nonbinding vote.