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National briefs

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 5, 2000


Rains pound Texas, killing 5

Relentless thunderstorms have rumbled across central Texas for more than two days, causing severe flooding that has been blamed for the deaths of five people.

Widespread rains were expected to continue through the weekend, prompting the National Weather Service to keep Central Texas under a flash-flood warning.

The city of Austin had received 2.59 inches of rain since Friday evening, while Waco had been drenched with 3.22 inches and San Antonio 3.63 inches, the weather service reported. The heaviest was 5.22 inches in Georgetown, Texas, about 20 miles north of Austin.

More heavy rain was predicted until Saturday evening.

"We're right along the frontal boundary," said Bill Runyon of the National Weather Service. "It's surrounding us like a big sea and we're in the middle of it, and it's closing in on us."

Three people died in flooding Friday and two on Thursday. All died in car accidents during heavy rains or flooding.

1 person killed, 30 hurt when train derails in Calif.

MOORPARK, Calif. -- An Amtrak train carrying 88 people derailed Saturday after hitting a truck, killing one person and injuring at least 30 others, a fire department spokeswoman said.

Three of the five passenger cars derailed in the crash, said Ventura County Fire Department spokeswoman Sandi Wells.

The 28-year-old truck driver was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger in the truck was hospitalized in critical condition with severe head injuries, according to a spokeswoman at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks.

Twenty-eight people aboard the train sustained broken bones, cuts and bruises, and an engineer was treated for head and shoulder injuries, firefighters said. All but the truck passenger were released from the hospital Saturday.

Wells said the train struck the tree-trimming truck at a crossing on private property three miles west of Moorpark, about 50 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

South Carolina executes first prisoner of year

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- An Anderson County man twice sentenced to die for killing a principal on the steps of an elementary school during a robbery was executed Friday after the governor and the U.S. Supreme Court turned down last-ditch appeals.

Kevin Dean Young's death by lethal injection at 6:18 p.m. was South Carolina's first execution this year. Young, 32, had been on death row for nearly 12 years.

Young and two other men also were convicted in the robbery of Dennis Hepler, 35, as the principal walked out of West Franklin Street Elementary School in 1988.

Wildfires continue to threaten North Carolina

Wildfires continued their slow march through western North Carolina wilderness this weekend, feeding on parched underbrush and beetle-damaged pine trees.

More than 9,600 acres had been scorched by Saturday morning. The largest fires were in the Linville Gorge federal wilderness area about 40 miles northeast of Asheville. Both were 65 percent contained as of Saturday morning.

The rough terrain has caused firefighters the most trouble, said Bill Paxton, a Forest Service spokesman. He said the fire was moving south at a rate of about a mile a day.

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