Mexico blast death toll climbs to 33


Thirty-three people died in a powerful explosion at the headquarters of state-owned oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, the Mexican government said.

"The latest information regarding what happened at Pemex Tower is 33 people deceased," Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said on Twitter.

Neither Pemex nor authorities have ventured to speculate on the cause of Thursday's blast inside the 51-story structure, but media outlets said it could have been triggered by an overheating problem in the electrical system.

Details will be forthcoming once experts have completed their inspection of the scene, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said Friday after visiting some of the 121 injured survivors.




Spanish premier to address corruption allegations on Saturday


Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will speak publicly Saturday about corruption allegations implicating the ruling conservative Popular Party's former treasurer and reports of alleged payments to party leaders from a slush fund.

His deputy, Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, made the announcement Friday at a press conference following the weekly Cabinet meeting.

She spoke to reporters after a media report about an alleged secret ledger showing two decades of off-the-books cash payments to PP leaders, including Rajoy.

The government's No. 2 said Rajoy's conduct has always been "exemplary" throughout the 12 years she has worked with him and pledged that the government will get to the bottom of the scandal and ensure that anyone guilty of misconduct is duly punished.




Colombian rebel commander killed in airstrike


A man identified by Colombian authorities as the commander of the FARC guerrilla group's 5th Front was killed along with five other insurgents in an airstrike on a rebel camp in the northern province of Cordoba, the military said.

Fingerprint analysis confirmed that Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, commander Jacobo Arango was among those who died in Thursday's operation, the air force said in a statement.

Arango's death is a "highly significant" blow to the rebel army, Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said Friday.

"He was a man very close to (late FARC chief strategist) Mono Jojoy and (current rebel No. 2) Ivan Marquez, and was behind numerous massacres in Uraba (in the northwestern province of Antioquia) during the '80s and '90s," Pinzon said.




Nadal says he's ready to compete despite lingering knee pain


Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal said upon his arrival in Chile that he is ready to start his comeback despite lingering discomfort in his left knee.

"It's just good enough (to play), but like always I'm going to do whatever I can to compete," the former No. 1 told reporters outside his hotel in Santiago.

The Spaniard, whose ranking has dropped to No. 5 due to his seven-month absence from the ATP Tour, said the "injury is much better" and "there's no risk" of further debilitating damage.

"This is the main reason why I'm here. Even though I still have some discomfort that prevents me at times from training as hard as I'd like to, you've got to start sometime and I think this is the right time and place," the 11-time Grand Slam champion said.




26 Dead after blast wrecks bridge in China


Twenty-six people were killed and 15 others injured when a truck packed with fireworks exploded on a highway bridge in the central province of Henan, China National Radio said.

The blast, which occurred shortly before 9:00 a.m., took out an 80-meter (262-foot) section of the bridge and witnesses told the broadcaster that a dozen vehicles plunged to the ground.

The bridge is part of an interprovincial expressway linking the eastern province of Jiangsu with the northwestern autonomous region of Xinjiang.




4 Killed in gang shootout in El Salvador


Four people were killed and three others wounded in a shootout between rival gangs in the eastern province of San Miguel, Salvadoran authorities said.

The casualties, all gang members, were gathered at a brickworks in the La Carmenza neighborhood when youths from a rival gang arrived and began shooting, a police spokesman told Efe, without identifying the gangs involved.

Church-mediated talks between the jailed leaders of El Salvador's two largest gangs, Mara Salvatrucha and Mara 18, led last March to a truce that officials credit with reducing the number of homicides by 50 percent.