Explosion destroys building, kills one

An explosion laid waste to a restaurant and a shop Thursday afternoon in downtown Pueblo, killing one person, injuring at least seven and forcing several blocks to evacuate. Crews pulled a survivor from the rubble more than four hours after the blast.

The cause of the explosion was being investigated. A leaking natural gas pipe was found in the street next to the restaurant, but it wasn’t clear if the pipe was ruptured by the explosion or contributed to it, Fire Department spokesman Woody Percival said. The pipe was capped.

A total of seven people, including the woman who died, were transported to the hospital. An eighth person went unassisted later, Percival said.

The person who died was one of two women rescued from a shop next to the Branch Inn restaurant, Fire Chief Chris Riley said. At least five of the injured people were in the restaurant, Percival said.

Firefighters dug a man out of the rubble of the restaurant around 6:30 p.m. Riley said he was conscious and talking.

Glass block, bricks and other debris were strewn more than 100 feet from the restaurant. The third-floor windows of an apartment across the street were blown out.


Mars rover Spirit ‘talking’ again

Despite a nasty Martian dust storm, Spirit lives.

NASA had not heard from the 5-year-old Martian rover for four days. Just when engineers feared having to give up the ghost, the aptly named robot radioed back to Earth on Thursday that it survived.

Engineers shouted “she’s talking,” at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, Calif. They were afraid that a dust storm had drained Spirit’s solar batteries, triggering it to shut down. Spirit’s batteries are low, but working.

Spirit and its twin, Opportunity, are living long past their planned three months on Mars.

Huntsville, Texas

Ex-con executed for killing soldier

Texas executed a former New York City hair stylist with a long criminal record Thursday for the robbery, rape and murder of an Army medic at her apartment near Fort Hood.

“From Allah he came and from Allah he shall return,” Denard Manns said from the death chamber gurney.

Manns, 42, criticized or thanked various attorneys who had represented him, expressed love to friends and said, “I’m ready for the transition.” He uttered what appeared to be a brief prayer three times and was pronounced dead 10 minutes after the lethal drugs began to flow.

Manns’ appeals in the courts were exhausted and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, acting Wednesday on a petition filed by his lawyer, refused to commute his sentence.

Manns was convicted of raping and murdering 26-year-old Michelle Robson in 1998.

The former mural painter from New York City had moved to Texas that year after being paroled after serving nearly six years in prison for armed robbery – his second stint in jail for the crime.

He maintained he had nothing to do with the death of Robson, who lived with her husband a few doors down from where Manns was staying with his half brother and cousin in Killeen, in central Texas.

Prosecutors said DNA and fingerprint evidence implicated Manns, who also was found with some of the slain woman’s property.

From wire reports

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