March 15, 2006 in Nation/World

Dam bursts; 1 dead, others are missing

The Spokesman-Review
 

An earthen dam burst on the Hawaiian island of Kauai on Tuesday, sweeping away at least two houses and washing out the only road along the island’s north shore. One person was killed and as many as seven others were reported missing.

The Kaloko Reservoir dam gave way without warning after days of heavy rain, cutting off access to thousands of rural houses and luxury condominiums.

“Sounded like a 747 jet crashing here in the valley, all the trees popping and snapping and everything,” Kilauea resident John Hawthorne said. “It was just a horrendous sound, and it never quit.”

State officials were assessing the safety of other dams in the Kauai hills, which are dotted with private earthen dams such as the one that broke open.

Morgantown, W. Va.

Lightning blamed for fatal mine blast

The explosion that killed 12 workers at the Sago Mine was probably caused by a lightning bolt that ignited methane gas in a sealed-off area, the mine’s owner said Tuesday.

The company’s own investigation turned up three pieces of compelling evidence of a lightning strike, all from 6:26 a.m. on Jan. 2, said Ben Hatfield, chief executive officer of International Coal Group Inc.

He said weather monitors confirmed an unusually large and powerful lightning strike near the mine; a U.S. Geological Survey station confirmed a seismic event at Sago; and the mine’s own atmospheric alarms sounded.

Cape Canaveral, Fla.

NASA postpones launch of shuttle

NASA on Tuesday postponed the launch of space shuttle Discovery from May until at least July because of an all-too-familiar problem: a faulty fuel tank sensor.

A similar problem briefly delayed last summer’s launch of Discovery on the first shuttle flight since the Columbia disaster in 2003.

NASA said it needs the time to open up the spacecraft’s hydrogen fuel tank and replace the sensor, which gave an electrical resistance reading that was slightly off. The space agency plans to replace the three other sensors in the tank, too, to be safe.

Reno, Nev.

Student opens fire, injures classmates

An eighth-grader opened fire with a pistol Tuesday outside his middle school cafeteria, injuring two classmates, authorities said.

A teacher at Pine Middle School coaxed the boy to drop the gun, then “bear hugged” him until more staff arrived, said Reno police Lt. Ron Donnelly.

“It was a heroic job done,” he said. “She de-escalated a very dangerous situation.”

James S. Newman, 14, was charged as an adult with attempted murder and was jailed on $150,000 bail, Donnelly said.

The victims’ injuries were not life-threatening, he said.

Donnelly said the victims had no relationship with the suspected gunman, nor had they had any disputes or arguments with him.

“It appears he decided to engage in school violence,” the officer said. “He brought a gun to school today and randomly targeted these two students.”

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