TOULOUSE, France -- Rescuers picked through piles of concrete and twisted steel Saturday, searching for survivors after a huge explosion at a chemical fertilizer plant in southern France killed at least 22 people and injured 650 others.
Fifteen people were still missing, presumably buried amid tons of rubble that was once the AZF chemical plant in Toulouse. The site was leveled Friday by an explosion -- reportedly caused by workers improperly mixing chemicals -- that had the strength of a 3.2 magnitude earthquake, the National Earthquake Surveillance Center said.
Japan: Test confirms Asia's first case of mad cow disease
TOKYO (AP) -- A test has shown that a Japanese animal slaughtered in August carried the mad cow disease, the Ministry of Agriculture said Saturday, confirming the first known case of the deadly brain-wasting illness in Asia.
The Japanese government had announced last week that the 5-year-old dairy cow in central Japan might have suffered from the sickness and sent a tissue sample to experts in Britain for a conclusive diagnosis. The results came back late Friday, the ministry said.
It is still unknown how the cow contracted the disease, though investigators are focusing on animal feed as the likely cause, said Kazuki Ikeda, an official at the ministry's animal health division.
Peace plan inches ahead in Macedonia
SKOPJE, Macedonia -- Grudgingly keeping its part of the bargain, Macedonia's parliament has begun the lengthy process of adopting draft constitutional amendments crucial to the success of a Western-backed peace plan.
In an impassioned session, parliament approved three amendments on Friday but postponed action on 12 others on a request by the main ethnic Albanian party. The party complained of irregularities in the process and called for more deputies to attend.
Pope arrives in Kazakstan
ASTANA, Kazakstan (AP) -- Pope John Paul II arrived Saturday in the Kazak capital Astana on his first foreign trip since the devastating terrorist attacks in the United States last week and the buildup of U.S. military forces to strike back.
Black-bereted riot police and security agents lined the main streets of the city. Hours before the pontiff's arrival, armored personnel carriers were deployed, with snipers wearing black-knit balaclava masks peering out the top.
An armored personnel carrier fitted with a small cannon was parked near a memorial the pope was to visit -- the first public sign of the "unprecedented" security measures Kazak officials had promised to take in this sleepy Central Asian capital.
Bermuda offers free vacations to 100 New York rescue workers
HAMILTON, Bermuda (AP) -- Bermuda's government has offered 100 free vacations to rescue workers who spent long days searching for signs of life in the rubble of the World Trade Center in New York.
The British island's tourism minister, David Allen, said at a press conference on Friday that he sent a letter earlier this week to New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, saying the free vacations were a gesture of thanks for firefighters and police who helped several Bermudians escape the twin towers on Sept. 11.
"Between the hotels, the government, restaurants, we are going to work with tourism so that when they do come to Bermuda, we will show them a good time," Allen said, speaking in Hamilton, the capital. He called the rescue workers the "heroes of New York."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.