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  |   June 14, 2008 at 6:14 PM
Japanese quake leaves at least six dead

SENDAI, Japan, June 14 (UPI) -- A 7.2-magnitude earthquake in northeastern Japan Saturday left at least six people dead and another 13 missing, authorities say.

Authorities told the Kyodo news agency nearly 200 people were injured when the quake struck mountainous areas of the Miyagi, Akita and Iwate prefectures at 8:43 a.m. local time.

The quake was followed by a series of lesser aftershocks that destroyed roads, scarred regional hills and toppled a bridge.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake originated nearly five miles underground in the southern Iwate prefecture.

The agency said despite the quake's high magnitude, no tsunami alert has been issued for the region.

Tohoku Electric Power Co. and Tokyo Electric Power Co. told Kyodo nearby nuclear power plants were not significantly damaged by the earthquake or its aftershocks and were still operating normally.

The deaths occurred in various prefectures primarily due to falling rocks and landslides, which also caused nearly 20 people to become temporarily trapped in an overturned bus in the city of Oshu.

Kyodo News 773 rescue workers had been dispatched throughout the stricken region.


Israeli airstrike hits Palestinians

BEIT HANOUN, Gaza, June 14 (UPI) -- A group of Palestinian gunmen allegedly advancing on the Israeli border were hit by an Israeli airstrike Saturday morning, military officials say.

While Israeli Air Force officials confirmed the airstrike in the Gaza Strip hit the suspected Palestinian gunmen, the number of casualties was not yet known, Ynetnews reported.

Saturday's attack came just days after 14 Palestinians were killed in several clashes in the region. Thursday's conflicts occurred in conjunction with rocket attacks on southern Israel, which resulted in one Israeli woman being injured.

Three suspected Hamas operatives were among the Palestinians killed Thursday as Israeli troops targeted them for allegedly preparing for a rocket attack on Israeli territory.

Meanwhile, an explosion took place in the town of Beit Lahiya. Ynetnews said a building in the Gaza Strip town was destroyed by the blast, which killed an infant girl and a young boy.

The news group said Palestinians immediately accused Israel of hitting the building with an airstrike, an accusation the Israeli military has denied.


Canadian wildfire prompts evacuation

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, June 14 (UPI) -- More than 3,000 people were evacuated from their homes Saturday in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia as a wildfire ran rampant, authorities say.

John Webb, director of emergency social services for the provincial Community Services Department, said 1,261 homes in the Porters Lake and Lake Echo areas were evacuated as a precaution as a large wildfire threatened the region, The (Nova Scotia) Chronicle Herald reported.

"They are confirming now which homes are either severely damaged or destroyed," Webb said.

"And they are going to try and get hold of the people if there are those places. That's the trouble. There are still rumors."

An estimated 50 firefighters have been battling the blaze, which started Friday in western Halifax County, and a large water bomber was expected to join the effort.

Authorities told the Herald other smaller blazes had appeared throughout the province, but those blazes had mostly been contained by firefighters.


Bush concludes French 'farewell tour' stop

PARIS, June 14 (UPI) -- U.S. President George Bush and French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy completed talks Saturday as part of Bush's "farewell tour" of Europe.

The two leaders discussed the U.S. president's call for improved diplomatic relations between the United States and Europe, the BBC reported, saying Iran's nuclear program and cooperation between the two countries in Afghanistan were among the topics addressed.

France, which will next hold the rotating European Union presidency, has 1,400 troops as part of the NATO contingent serving in Afghanistan, and Sarkozy has promised to send more troops.

At a joint news conference Saturday, Sarkozy noted the United States and France had nurtured a positive relationship for more than 200 years, the network reported.

Bush so far has visited Slovenia, the current the EU president, Germany, Italy and Vatican City, and will next visit Britain.

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