Blasts cut gas supply
Two explosions early yesterday on pipelines running through southern Russia cut the natural gas supply to Georgia and Armenia, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said the blasts appeared to be accidental but investigators were still probing the causes.The explosions hit two pipelines in the region of North Ossetia, not far from the border with Georgia, Beltsov said. ITAR-Tass quoted an another ministry official as saying that it would take two to three days to complete repairs.
■ United States
Vegas hosts Miss America
A 22-year-old aspiring teacher from Oklahoma was crowned Miss America on Saturday night in Las Vegas, the first time the storied but struggling pageant was held outside Atlantic City, New Jersey. Jennifer Berry outlasted 51 other women to become Miss America 2006, earning a US$30,000 college scholarship and a year-long speaking tour in the process. Berry, a student at the University of Oklahoma, wowed the judges by dancing ballet for her talent routine. The pageant, which dabbled in reality TV-style gimmicks in recent years as it tried to lure viewers back, struck a more old-fashioned theme this time out, despite the move to Sin City.
■ United States
Miners' bodies found
Rescue teams late on Saturday discovered the bodies of two miners missing since a fire Thursday in a coal shaft in Melville, West Virginia. "We have two miners who have perished," West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin announced in a press conference. Six five-member rescue teams had been searching the huge network of underground passageways to find the two men. The fire broke out on Thursday night about 300m underground at the Aracoma Mine. Nineteen miners were able to escape, but the two who died had failed to emerge, setting off a grueling, often simultaneous firefighting and search effort. It was the second major accident this month in a West Virginia coal mine.
■ United Kingdom
London whale dies
A lost young whale that swam up the River Thames into central London and captured the heart of Britons died on Saturday, despite a marathon rescue effort that brought it back close to the open sea. In an operation watched by riverbank crowds and covered live on television, marine experts finally snared the whale that had eluded them since Friday and hoisted it onto a barge before sailing it downriver toward the North Sea. But the health of the northern bottle-nosed whale, apparently injured and exhausted after its two-day sojourn in fresh water, took a turn for the worse near the Thames Estuary. The whale died near the sea.