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June 27, 2012 at 7:59 AM   |   Comments

Colorado wildfire burns out of control

COLORADO SPRINGS, June 27 (UPI) -- Colorado firefighters faced another day of inferno-like conditions Wednesday as they battled a 6,200-acre wildfire only 5 percent contained, officials said.

The Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs was called "surreal" by Gov. John Hickenlooper late Tuesday after he returned from surveying the area, CNN reported.

"There were people's homes burned to the ground," he said. "There's no question, it's serious. It's as serious as it gets."

Officials said the fire has been exhibiting "extreme fire behavior."

"This is a firestorm of epic proportions," said fire chief Richard Brown of Colorado Springs.

A spokeswoman for the multi-agency response team said conditions could not be worse.

"It is like a convection oven out there," said Anne Rys-Sikora.

The Denver Post said some 32,000 people have fled the area.


Tropical depression floods N. Fla., S. Ga.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., June 27 (UPI) -- A tropical depression lashed northern Florida and southern Georgia with torrential rainfall, causing flash flooding, as it moved east Wednesday.

The storm -- known as Tropical Storm Debby when its maximum sustained surface winds were 39 mph and greater -- had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph with higher gusts Wednesday morning, as it flooded homes and business districts and closed multiple roads.

At 5 a.m. EDT, it was about 25 miles southeast of St. Augustine, moving east-northeast at about 10 mph and was forecast to be over the Atlantic Ocean Wednesday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Four to 8 inches of rain was expected to fall, with isolated rain totals topping 25 inches, throughout some northern Florida areas, particularly north of Interstate 10, a major interstate highway that crosses the northern part of the state to Jacksonville, which received more than a foot of rain.

Jacksonville's flash flooding led to numerous water rescues and reports of water entering homes Tuesday evening, the Weather Channel reported.


Syria in 'state of war,' Assad says

DAMASCUS, Syria, June 27 (UPI) -- Syria is in a "state of war," President Bashar Assad said, as 116 people were killed and Turkey warned it would attack any Syrian force that nears its border.

"We live in a real state of war from all angles," Assad said in a speech to his new Cabinet broadcast over state TV.

"When we are in a war, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war," he said.

Assad ordered the Cabinet to crush the uprising against his regime -- an uprising he has called a "foreign conspiracy" using Islamic "terrorists" to overthrow his secular leadership.

He made his comments to members of a new government elected as in a "reform" process that includes a revamped constitution.

Opposition activists call the reforms a sham and boycotted the elections.

Assad's comments came as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Turkey would militarily target any Syrian forces approaching their joint 565-mile border, following a disputed downing of a Turkish warplane.


Israel condemns Iran's anti-Semitism

JERUSALEM, June 27 (UPI) -- Israel's foreign minister condemned an anti-Semitic speech by Iran's vice president at an international drug conference attended by western diplomats in Tehran.

"The international community has not yet realized the great danger the [Iranian] regime poses to world peace. Hitler also said crazy things and succeeded in carrying out his plan," the Hebrew language daily Maariv quoted Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as saying Wednesday.

The New York Times described the speech delivered by Iranian Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi at the U.N. international drug trade conference in Tehran Tuesday as "baldly anti-Semitic," shocking some of the European diplomats attending the conference. None of the diplomats, however, walked out of the meeting.


Asylum seekers rescued after boat capsizes

SYDNEY, June 27 (UPI) -- A boat carrying women and children seeking asylum in Australia capsized in the Indian Ocean 100 nautical miles north of Christmas Island, officials said.

The Australian Maritime and Safety Authority said 136 people were saved and there was only one confirmed death, The Australian reported.

Officials could not confirm how many people were on the boat.

The navy's HMAS Maitland and three merchant vessels were sent to the scene to aid in the rescue along with an air force plane.

Australia coordinated the rescue even though the boat went down in Indonesia's search and rescue area.

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