Death toll raised to 80 in train derailment in Spain


Two more people have died, raising the death toll from the derailment of a high-speed train just outside the northwestern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela to 80, officials said.

Nearly 100 people, including 31 adults and four children listed in critical condition, are still hospitalized for treatment of injuries sustained in the accident on Wednesday evening.

The train's driver is being investigated in connection with the derailment, with officials saying that excessive speed may be to blame for the accident.

The driver, identified as Francisco Jose Garzon, apparently admitted that he was going at around 190 kph (118 mph) on a curve with a speed limit of 80 kph (about 50 mph).

The 52-year-old Garzon, who has worked as a train operator since the 1990s, has driven high-speed trains on the Madrid-Ferrol line for a year.




Pope tells Brazil slum youths to battle injustice


Pope Francis visited a Brazilian shantytown that until recently was controlled by drug traffickers, where he urged young residents to fight against corruption and injustice.

Amid heavy security measures, Francis visited the Rio de Janeiro "favela" of Varginha.

The pontiff was welcomed with jubilation by the 2,500 residents of the favela, most of whom live in houses constructed of castoff items and cardboard and who cleaned and decorated the streets for the occasion.

Francis, always smiling, greeted and kissed a number of children and headed for the favela's small church, where he blessed the main altar and was presented with a chalice as a gift.




U.S. court sentences Mexico's "Queen of the Pacific" to time served


A U.S. judge sentenced a Mexican woman known as the "Queen of the Pacific" to time served after she pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact to drug trafficking.

Sandra Avila Beltran, 52, left Miami's federal courthouse a free woman, at least technically, though her next destination is an immigration detention center where she will await deportation back to Mexico.

The sentence handed down by the judge - 70 months - is equal to the amount of time Avila has already spent behind bars since her September 2007 arrest in Mexico.

She was facing up to 15 years in prison.




14 Dead in torrential rains in northwestern China


The torrential rains that for days have been deluging the northwestern Chinese province of Shaanxi have killed 14 people, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Most of the victims died in the city of Yanan when their homes collapsed in the heavy rains and flooding.

The rain has severely damaged 11,300 houses and almost 34,000 hectares (about 85,000 acres) of cropland, causing direct economic losses estimated at 1.8 billion yuan ($291 million), according to provincial government figures.




Cuban band Hipnosis requests political asylum in U.S.


The six members of the Cuban heavy metal band Hipnosis requested political asylum in the United States upon their arrival this week in Miami, the Web site Cafe Fuerte said.

The band members prefer "to accept the uncertainty" of the future in a "place where there are opportunities and options, and not in a country (Cuba) where there is nothing and nobody hopes for anything," Giovani Milhet, the group's singer and guitarist, told the Web site, which is dedicated to covering current events in Cuba and Miami.

The musicians flew to Miami from Havana on Monday and defected immediately upon arriving at the airport instead of boarding another flight to California, where they were scheduled to perform several concerts and cut a record.




Cartels unleash wave of violence in western Mexico's Michoacan state


Drug cartels have unleashed a wave of violence this week in Michoacan, a state in western Mexico that has been the scene of a series of attacks on federal security forces, officials said.

Unidentified gunmen staged six attacks on the Federal Police on Tuesday, with the attacks appearing to have been coordinated.

"This is an ambush, a frontal assault on the Federal Police, generating unusual violence in that state," federal Security Cabinet spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said.

Michoacan is one of the states where the federal government is focusing its security strategy because of the strong presence of drug traffickers.

The western region is a clear example of a failed state, some analysts said.




Attack in Pakistan leaves 8 dead


Eight people were killed and 35 others wounded in a an attack on the regional office of Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency in the southern city of Sukkur, media outlets said.

At least four heavily armed attackers fired shots and launched grenades at the complex Wednesday night before detonating an explosives-laden car, the Express Tribune said, citing unnamed officials.

Three ISI personnel and a civilian were killed along with all four assailants, police told the newspaper.