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Nation in brief: Fire kills four college students

Mon., Jan. 18, 2010

A fire swept through a two-story motel in central Alabama, killing four Mississippi college students who were trapped in their room, officials said Sunday.

The victims were students at Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Miss., which is about 90 miles west of Hoover, Ala, the site of the Days Inn fire. Officials didn’t immediately know what started the blaze Saturday night, or where it began.

The victims were among those who made 911 calls to report the fire, Hoover Fire Department spokesman Rusty Lowe said. Firefighters knew the women were trapped in their second-floor room, but couldn’t get to them because of the flames.

Five people found slain in home

BELLVILLE, Texas – Five people were found slain in a home in southeast Texas on Sunday, authorities said.

Sgt. Paul Faircloth with the Austin County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release that deputies found the bodies of four adults and one child Sunday at a Bellville home. Faircloth said one person is in custody and is being questioned in connection with the homicides.

Authorities would not release any additional information.

Bellville is about 55 miles northwest of Houston.

Teenager recants kidnap, rape claim

RICHMOND, Calif. – A 15-year-old California girl who claimed she had been kidnapped off the street at gunpoint and raped in the same town where another teenager was assaulted in a gang rape three months earlier told police Sunday she made up the story, authorities said.

The 15-year-old had claimed she was forced Friday night into a car with four males at gunpoint and driven around for several hours before two of them raped her.

But the girl called Richmond police around 1 p.m. Sunday and told them the story was not true, said Lt. Mark Gagan.

The girl told police Sunday that she had had consensual sex with someone, but needed an explanation for why she was late getting home Friday night, Gagan said.

The girl’s accusations prompted a major police investigation in Richmond, where the gang rape of a high school girl outside a homecoming dance made national headlines in October.

On Sunday afternoon, police found evidence, including video footage, that confirmed the girl had made up her initial story, Gagan said.

Crew, passengers sickened by odor

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Seven US Airways crew members were taken to a hospital from a North Carolina airport after complaining of headaches and nausea aboard a flight, the airline said.

The crew had been on a plane that had just arrived at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport Saturday from St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. US Airways spokeswoman Michelle Mohr said Sunday that eight passengers were treated on the scene and went on to board connecting flights out of Charlotte.

Shortly after the plane took off from St. Thomas, crew members noticed an odor and alerted Charlotte authorities.

Mohr said the plane has been taken out of service. Authorities are investigating what caused the odor.


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