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Associated Press

Posted on April 2, 2014 at 5:02 AM

Chile's President Bachelet cautious on tsunami threat as 8.2 quake kills 5 in northern Chile

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Authorities kept hundreds of thousands of people out of their beds early Wednesday after a magnitude-8.2 earthquake struck off Chile's northern coast. Five people were crushed to death or suffered fatal heart attacks, a remarkably low toll for such a powerful shift in the Earth's crust.

The extent of damage from Tuesday night's quake couldn't be fully assessed before daybreak, President Michelle Bachelet said, but she wasn't taking any chances. She declared a state of emergency in the region and sent a military plane with 100 anti-riot police to join 300 soldiers deployed to prevent looting and round up escaped prisoners.

The shaking loosed landslides that blocked roads, knocked out power for thousands, damaged an airport and provoked fires that destroyed several businesses. About 300 inmates escaped from a women's prison in the city of Iquique. In Arica, another city close to the quake's offshore epicenter, hospitals treated minor injuries, and some homes made of adobe were destroyed, authorities said. Chilean Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo announced the five deaths.

Bachelet's government extended its tsunami warnings for northernmost Chile long after they were lifted elsewhere. Its mandatory evacuation orders remained in effect until nearly dawn for coastal areas north of Antofogasta, a decision backed by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii.

"We regard the coast line of Chile as still dangerous, so we're maintaining the warning," geophysicist Gerard Fryer told The Associated Press.

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Unmanned subs could be key to finding vanished jet if searchers can narrow crash zone

Two miles down or more and darker than night, the ocean becomes a particularly challenging place for human searchers.

If the wreckage of a missing Malaysian airliner rests somewhere in the Indian Ocean's depths, then investigators will likely need to entrust the hunt at least partly to robot submarines and the scientists who deploy them to scan remote swaths of the seafloor.

Such unmanned subs, called autonomous underwater vehicles or AUVs, played a critical role in locating the carcass of a lost Air France jet in 2011, two years after it crashed in the middle of the south Atlantic. The find allowed searchers to recover the black boxes that revealed the malfunctions behind the tragedy.

That search keyed off critical information: The search area for the Air France jet was much smaller than that for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, and the first pieces of wreckage were recovered within days of the crash. Even then, it required two years and four deep water search missions before a team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, using an AUV equipped with side-scan sonar, located the jet about 12,800 feet (3,900 meters) underwater.

"Air France 447 is a bit different from Malaysian Air 370 in that we had a few more clues to work with," said Dave Gallo, who led the search team from Woods Hole, located on Massachusetts' Cape Cod. The independent research institution has offered its services to investigators but has not been asked to join the current search effort.

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10 Things to Know for Today

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

1. WHY MANY CHILEANS DIDN'T SLEEP LAST NIGHT

Authorities keep hundreds of thousands of people out of their beds after a magnitude-8.2 earthquake triggered tsunami warnings.

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Scandal-plagued DC mayor loses primary to younger challenger who promises a 'fresh start'

WASHINGTON (AP) — Reeling from allegations by federal prosecutors that he knew about the dirty tricks that helped him get elected four years ago, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray tried to rally his base. But his core supporters weren't nearly enough, as a scandal-weary electorate rallied behind a much-younger challenger who promised honest and ethical leadership.

D.C. Councilmember Muriel Bowser defeated Gray in Tuesday's Democratic mayoral primary, leaving Gray to serve nine months as a lame duck with potential criminal charges hanging over his head.

The defining moment of the election occurred three weeks earlier in a courtroom. Federal prosecutors say Gray knew about an illegal $668,000 slush fund that helped him defeat incumbent Adrian Fenty in 2010. Five people involved with his previous campaign have pleaded guilty to felonies and the new allegations surfaced as part of a plea deal for the businessman who provided the illegal funds.

Gray has denied all wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime. But his attorney has said he is preparing for a possible indictment, and U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said the charges thus far represent "the tip of the iceberg."

Bowser pounced on Gray's weakness earlier than most. She launched her campaign little more than halfway through the mayor's term, knocking on doors around the city with a determination similar to Fenty, her political mentor.

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NATO ministers order plan for reinforcing eastern security, suspend cooperation with Russia

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO foreign ministers moved Tuesday to beef up the defenses of front-line alliance members feeling menaced by a more assertive Russia, with Secretary of State John Kerry proclaiming the U.S. commitment to their security is "unwavering."

The ministers from NATO's 28 member nations also ordered suspension of all "practical civilian and military cooperation" with Vladimir Putin's Russia, though they made sure a line of communication with the Kremlin remains open at the ambassadorial level.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, keystone of U.S. and European security since the end of World War II, is facing its most acute geopolitical crisis in years: the fallout from Moscow's unilateral annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, which the Obama administration and its allies condemn as a brazen, illegal land grab.

On Tuesday, an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 Russian troops equipped with tanks, other armored vehicles and fixed and rotary wing aircraft remained positioned near the border with Ukraine, a NATO military official told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.

The military official described the Russian buildup as "a complete combat force" that was highly threatening to Ukraine.

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Malaysian police say Flight 370 probe may be lengthy, might not determine why plane vanished

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — A police investigation may never determine the reason why the Malaysia Airlines jetliner disappeared, and search planes scouring the India Ocean for any sign of its wreckage aren't certain to find anything either, officials said Wednesday.

The assessment by Malaysian and Australian officials underscored the lack of knowledge authorities have about what happened on Flight 370. It also points to a scenario that becomes more likely with every passing day — that the fate of the Boeing 777 and the 239 people on board might remain a mystery forever.

The plane disappeared March 8 on a flight to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur after its transponders, which make the plane visible to commercial radar, were shut off. Military radar picked up the jet just under an hour later, on the other side of the Malay peninsula. Authorities say until then its "movements were consistent with deliberate action by someone on the plane" but have not ruled out anything, including mechanical error.

Police are investigating the pilots and crew for any evidence suggesting they may have hijacked or sabotaged the plane. The backgrounds of the passengers, two-thirds of whom were Chinese, have been checked by local and international investigators and nothing suspicious has been found.

"Investigations may go on and on and on. We have to clear every little thing," Inspector General Khalid Abu Bakar told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. "At the end of the investigations, we may not even know the real cause. We may not even know the reason for this incident."

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Mary Barra tries to assure Congress GM has changed its ways, but old culture looms large

WASHINGTON (AP) — "That is not how GM does business."

With statements like that, new CEO Mary Barra is trying to distance the General Motors she now leads from the overly bureaucratic company whose inattention to its customers helped land it in bankruptcy in 2009.

But it's clear from her appearance before Congress this week that she faces a difficult task. Documents submitted by GM ahead of a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday show that cost was a major consideration when the company declined a decade ago to implement fixes to an ignition switch used in small cars.

That switch is now linked to 13 deaths, and Barra, less than three months after taking over as CEO, finds herself thrust into one of the biggest product safety crises Detroit has ever seen.

Since February, GM has recalled 2.6 million cars — mostly Chevrolet Cobalts and Saturn Ions — over the faulty switch, which can cause the engine to cut off in traffic, disabling the power steering, power brakes and air bags and making it difficult to control the vehicle. The automaker said new switches should be available starting April 7.

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Looking to woo young evangelicals, Sen. Ted Cruz heads to Jerry Falwell's Liberty University

WASHINGTON (AP) — Possible presidential hopeful Ted Cruz is auditioning at one of the nation's largest meetings of young evangelicals, a critical voting bloc for any Republican with White House ambitions.

The Texas senator and tea party favorite was to speak Wednesday before the student body of Liberty University, the Virginia school founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. These sessions, which feature remarks from a campus visitor, prayer and music, are favorite stops for potential White House contenders honing their message and trying to build buzz among voters with great sway over who will be chosen as the GOP's next presidential nominee.

A visit also signals respect for the Christian university and its formidable alumni network.

"Sen. Cruz has boldly and courageously defended the United States Constitution and the principles of limited government our founders held dear even when it meant opposing members of his own political party," university Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a statement.

More than 100,000 students take classes on the Lynchburg, Va., campus and online, making it the world's largest Christian university. The morning worship sessions routinely draw packed houses, with students filling most of the 8,000 permanent seats inside the Vines Center and others finding space in folding chairs on the basketball court.

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Sunshine, receding waters temporarily aid search for Washington mudslide victims

ARLINGTON, Wash. (AP) — It is a grim step forward in the search for human remains at a mudslide that crushed a rural Washington community, but an important one: floodwaters at the site are receding, allowing crews to expand their search and yielding more human remains in areas that previously couldn't be reached. The views presented Tuesday on a media tour were chilling: shredded homes and twisted cars.

More than 10 days after a large section of a rain-soaked hill crashed down on a neighborhood in the small community of Oso, teams with cadaver dogs are still sifting through debris and soil to determine exactly how many people died in the March 22 mudslide.

The mudslide had dammed up the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, causing water to pool. Heavy rain last week added to the flooding. But on Tuesday, the weather was dry and sunny again. With the rain stopped, at least for a few days, the floodwaters are receding, which is allowing more crews to switch from water pumping to searching.

"A lot of logjam areas, that's where we're finding human remains," search effort division supervisor Steve Harris said on Tuesday.

Here are some facts and observations in one of the worst natural disasters to hit Washington state in this century:

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Hollande's former partner Segolene Royal named to new French cabinet

PARIS (AP) — French President Francois Hollande has approved a new Cabinet that includes his ex-companion Segolene Royal as minister of environment and energy.

The new government was named Wednesday after discussions between new Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Hollande, and follow a crushing defeat for their Socialist Party in municipal voting last week.

Laurent Fabius and Jean-Yves Le Drian keep their positions as foreign affairs and defense ministers in the new government. Former Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici has left the government and the brief has been split between two Socialists: Michel Sapin will take charge of finance, and Arnaud Montebourg will be in charge of industry and economy.

Royal was the Socialist candidate for president in 2007 but lost.

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