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World news briefs — compiled Jan. 11

CHINA

Fire devastates ancient town

A fire that raged for nearly 10 hours razed an ancient Tibetan town in southwest China that’s popular with tourists, burning down hundreds of buildings after fire engines failed to get onto the narrow streets, state media and witnesses said. There were no immediate reports of casualties, and the cause of the fire was not yet known. State media, citing local authorities, said the blaze started in a guesthouse and was ruled accidental. The fire broke out at 1:30 a.m. Saturday in the ancient Tibetan quarter of Dukezong, which dates back more than 1,000 years and is known for its preserved cobbled streets, ancient structures and Tibetan culture. Dukezong is part of scenic Shangri-La county in Deqen prefecture.

RUSSIA

Terrorism suspects detained

Five terror suspects were detained Saturday in one of Russia’s North Caucasus provinces as the country’s security agencies were scrambling to uproot any potential threat to the Sochi Games. The sweep in the city of Nalchik, about 185 miles east of Sochi, comes less than a month before the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The National Anti-Terrorism Committee said the suspects belonged to an international terror group and were in possession of grenades, ammunition and a self-made explosive device.

TONGA

Cyclone damage assessed

Authorities scrambled to assess the damage today after the most powerful cyclone to hit Tonga in decades tore through the South Pacific nation, destroying homes and ripping roofs from churches. At least one person was killed and an untold number of homes were flattened by Cyclone Ian, which hit with gusts up to 178 miles per hour.

COLOMBIA

5 killed in helicopter crash

Colombia’s army said Saturday that a private helicopter on a mission for the military has crashed in the country’s northwest, killing all five people aboard. Two soldiers, a police officer, a military priest and the aircraft’s pilot died in the crash in the rural region of Anori. The craft had been missing since Thursday.

Compiled from wire reports.



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