Power outages, heat plague East
WASHINGTON, July 2 (UPI) -- U.S. utilities sought to restore power Monday to customers left in the dark by storms and suffering sauna-like temperatures in the eastern half of the country.
Record-breaking heat approaching the century mark baked an area from Missouri to New York to Georgia, with about 2 million electrical customers without power -- down from 4 million at the peak. About 1 million power customers were down in Virginia, Maryland and Washington alone, CNN reported.
More storms were forecast for Monday and Accuweather.com said Wednesday's scheduled July Fourth celebrations could be interrupted by more severe weather.
About 92,000 Commonwealth Edison customers in the Chicago area remained without power by mid-afternoon as temperatures climbed into the 90s.
Straight-line winds as high as 90 mph raked the area Sunday and more than 1 1/4 inches of rain fell, with areas west of Chicago the hardest hit, the Chicago Tribune reported. ComEd said it may be the end of the week before power is restored in some areas.
Federal agencies in the Washington area told non-emergency personnel to stay home and some schools in Baltimore canceled classes, CNN said. Classes also were canceled in Washington.
"We've been sleeping in the basement," Mark Cohen of Mays Landing, N.J., who lost power in the storms, told CNN. "Yesterday was 95 and really humid. We just finished our basement, luckily. We put an air mattress down there."
The latest wave of storms hit before cleanup was complete from Friday's deluge.
The death toll from the widespread, violent thunderstorms that ripped through at least seven states Friday night rose to at least 17 in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia, The Washington Post reported.
Most of those killed died from falling trees.
Four states and the nation's capital declared states of emergency, and cooling shelters were set up to help residents cope.
Obama mourns C-130 crash victims
EDGEMONT, S.D., July 2 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force grounded its C-130 firefighting planes after a fatal crash of one working a South Dakota fire, a military spokesman said Monday.
North Carolina National Guard Lt. Col. Robert Carver said there were multiple fatalities among Guard members aboard the plane and others were injured, CNN reported. The exact number of casualties wasn't released.
"There were lives lost; there were injuries," Carver said.
President Barack Obama said in a statement released by the White House that while the crash was still under investigation, "the crew of this flight -- along with their families and loved ones -- are in our thoughts and prayers."
"The men and women battling these terrible fires across the West put their lives on the line every day for their fellow Americans," Obama said. "The airmen who attack these fires from above repeatedly confront dangerous conditions in an effort to give firefighters on the ground a chance to contain these wildfires -- to save homes, businesses, schools, and entire communities. They are heroes who deserve the appreciation of a grateful nation.
"I know Americans across the country share my concern for the well-being of the surviving members of the crew and my deep condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. And I know that Americans join me in expressing my deepest gratitude for the selfless determination they and thousands of men and women involved in this fight in states across the country demonstrate every day."
Air Force spokesman Todd Spitler said C-130s with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System won't fly until further notice, CNN reported.
Carver said "about three dozen" aircraft are affected by the Air Force order.
It was the second crash in recent weeks of an air tanker on firefighting duty. One of the aircraft, which can release as much as 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in under 5 seconds, went down along the Nevada-Utah border.
The Fall River County Sheriff's office said a helicopter landed near the plane after it went down Sunday and evacuated three people, who were transported to a Rapid City, S.D., hospital for treatment, the Rapid City Journal reported.
A spokesman said he couldn't provide any other information about the plane, which went down during the White Draw fire, or its crew.
Rescuers were working at the crash site.
The fire, about 5 miles northeast of Edgemont, had burned about 4,200 acres since it started Friday and was 30 percent contained, officials said. No homes had been threatened, InciWeb, a fire-response Web site, said.
The South Dakota wildfire is one of many burning in Western states.
In Colorado Springs, authorities lifted evacuation orders for all but the hardest-hit areas in the Waldo Canyon fire, allowing residents to return to what's left of their homes Sunday, The (Colorado Springs) Gazette reported.
Evacuation orders remained in effect for about 3,000 of the 32,000 people forced to leave, officials said.
The Waldo Canyon fire, blamed for two deaths, was about 55 percent contained after having burned more than 17,800 acres since it began more than a week ago.
New ransomware Reveton detected
PORTLAND, Ore., July 2 (UPI) -- A new malware, dubbed Reveton, has turned up that holds victims' computers hostage until a ransom is paid, the FBI in Portland, Ore., said Monday.
Victims are lured to a drive-by download Web site where the ransomware is surreptitiously installed on the user's computer. Once infected, the computer freezes and a screen is displayed warning the user they have violated federal law, the FBI said in a statement on its Web site.
The message states the user's Internet provider address was identified by the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section as having visited sites that feature child pornography and other illegal content.
To unlock the computer, the user is instructed to pay a $100 fine to the U.S. Justice Department using prepaid money card services. The geographic location of the user's IP address determines what payment services are offered.
The malware remains on the computer and can be used to commit online banking and credit card fraud, the FBI said.
The FBI said anyone who encounters the ransomware should not follow payment instructions. The agency suggests victims contact their banking institutions and file a complaint at www.ic3.gov.
Libya releases 4 ICC staff members
ZINTAN, Libya, July 2 (UPI) -- ICC President Song Sang-Hyun said the International Criminal Court was "grateful" after Libyan authorities released four ICC staff members from custody Monday.
Song met the former detainees in Zintan following their release, the ICC said in a release.
"The ICC is grateful to the Libyan authorities for their agreement today to release the Court's staff members so that they can be reunited with their families," Song said during a press conference in Zintan Monday.
The four ICC staff members -- Alexander Khodakov, Esteban Peralta Losilla, Melinda Taylor and Helene Assaf -- were detained in Zintan following their visit to Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi, son of late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, on June 7 to ensure the rights of the defense in his upcoming ICC case were being preserved.
Gadhafi is on trial for charges of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the killing of protesters during the uprising last year that led up to the overthrow of his late father, Moammar Gadhafi. He has denied the charges against him.
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