Front Page: China Quake Toll 12,000, Florida Fires, Military Meets Goals

  • China Quake Toll 12,000: The official death toll after the 7.8 earthquake in China yesterday now stands at 11,921, according to state media. The quake is China’s biggest natural disaster in three decades. Tens of thousands of people remain buried beneath rubble today and the authorities say more than 10,000 people are still unaccounted for in the city of Minzhu, and another 2,300 are missing following the collapse of a school and two factories in the town of Shifang. One aftershock rattled today with a magnitude of 6.1. The original quake leveled up to 80 percent of structures near its epicenter. As the battle to rescue survivors rages on, the authorities have mobilized 50,000 soldiers to help with the efforts.

  • Florida Fires: Fires are raging along Florida's Atlantic coast as firefighters in the town of Palm Bay have spent more than 48 hours battling the state's biggest blaze, which has damaged about 70 homes and scorched about 5 1/2 square miles. A Palm Bay spokeswoman says of the scene, ''everytime I turn around another house is on fire. We don't have enough resources on our own to do a job like this." Just south of Palm Bay, another almost equally-sized blaze destroyed at least four homes in nearby Malabar. Gov. Charlie Crist has declared a state of emergency. The cause of the fires might be arson according to authorities. A witness saw someone in a car drop something into an open field, with the fire starting shortly afterward.
  • Military Meets Recruiting Goals: Four branches of the US Military met their recruiting goals last month. The Marine Corps bested their goal by the most, enlisting 2,233 people or 142 percent of its goal, according to the Pentagon. The Army recruited 5,681 people, meeting 101 percent of its goal, while The Navy and Air Force also met their goals with 2,905 sailors and 2,435 airmen. A Defense Department spokesman said that if the Marine Corps continued its recruiting success, it could reach its goal of growing to 202,000 people by the end of 2009, more than a year early.
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