- - Sunday, April 10, 2011

HAWAII

Official to probe blast that killed 5 in bunker

WAIPAHU | Honolulu fire officials will try to determine the age and type of fireworks inside a bunker that exploded, killing five people, as they continue their probe into what caused the blast.

Honolulu fire Capt. Gary Lum says investigators also want to know what six employees of ordnance-disposal company Donaldson Enterprises Inc. were doing when the blast occurred Friday, killing five of them.

Authorities plan to put those questions to company officials Monday, when they will also return to see if the bunker is safe to enter for a more thorough inspection. The bunker was still warm Saturday, and officials wore protective equipment to retrieve the bodies of the last two victims.

IOWA

Tornado damages town, displaces hundreds

MAPLETON | Jamy Garden’s house began to rumble with the approach of a tornado that at one point measured three-quarters of a mile wide. Then the windows shattered, spraying her with glass. Using her cellphone as a flashlight, she fled to her basement and called her grandparents in tears.

On Sunday, she returned home, wandering her backyard in a blood-splattered hooded sweat shirt, her right hand and left knee wrapped in gauze. Around her lay a tangle of tree branches, twisted siding, broken glass and a canoe that wasn’t hers.

The tornado that struck the evening before damaged more than half of Mapleton, a town of 1,200 in western Iowa, Mayor Fred Standa said Sunday. He estimated about 20 percent of the town was “almost flat.”

The huge, centuries-old trees the town was named for had been pulled out of the ground and wrapped around houses and tossed on top of cars, Mr. Standa said. In one case, a huge motor home had been flipped on its side. About a hundred homes were destroyed and 500 to 600 residents displaced, he said.

The twister was measured to be on the lower end of an EF3, which carries wind speeds of 136 to 165 mph.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Navy won’t dismiss sailor found in another’s bunk

COLUMBIA | The Navy has dropped dismissal proceedings against a South Carolina-based sailor who was charged with unprofessional conduct after he was found in the same bed with another male sailor.

Navy spokesman Thomas Dougan confirmed Friday that the Navy no longer has a dismissal case against Petty Officer Stephen Jones. Mr. Dougan said he could not discuss details of the case.

Petty Officer Jones’ attorney, Gary Myers, did not return a phone message, but he has said that while Petty Officer Jones’ commanders suspect he is homosexual, they can’t invoke ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ because there was no admission of homosexuality.

Petty Officer Jones and another sailor were found in the same bunk after falling asleep while watching a television show in February.

TEXAS

Cuban ex-CIA agent acquitted in perjury case

EL PASO | An elderly Cuban former CIA operative accused of lying during a U.S. immigration hearing was acquitted on all charges Friday, with jurors taking just three hours to reach a verdict after enduring 13 weeks of often-delayed testimony.

The abrupt decision ends four years of attempts by the U.S. government to convict Luis Posada Carriles, 83, and means he no longer has to face the prospect of spending the final years of his life in prison, at least in the United States.

For decades, Mr. Posada worked to destabilize communist governments throughout Latin America and was often supported by Washington. He is Public Enemy No. 1 in his homeland, even considered ex-President Fidel Castro’s nemesis. In Havana, the government had no comment to his being cleared.

After hearing he had been acquitted on all 11 counts of perjury, obstruction and immigration fraud, the white-haired Mr. Posada grinned widely then hugged his three attorneys simultaneously. Two of the lawyers broke out in tears.

Across the aisle, a trio of federal prosecutors who painstakingly built their case by calling 23 witnesses over 11 weeks sat dejectedly.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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