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Briefs

Gas explosion levels buildings in central Mass.

– A natural gas explosion in one of New England’s biggest cities on Friday destroyed two buildings and damaged others beyond repair but didn’t kill anyone, authorities said.

Firefighters and gas company workers were among more than a dozen injured people, they said.

The explosion in a downtown area of Springfield, 90 miles west of Boston, blew out all windows in a three-block radius, leaving three more buildings irreparably damaged and prompting emergency workers to evacuate a six-story apartment building that was buckling.

Police Sgt. John Delaney said it looked as though there was a missile strike where the explosion leveled the multistory building at its epicenter.

Officials at two nearby hospitals said 16 victims were transported with injuries but none was critical.

Powerball jackpot reaches $325 million

Black Friday shoppers in many cities briefly detoured into lottery retailers, drawn off task by the prospects of winning a $325 million Powerball jackpot – the fourth-largest in the game’s history.

A single winner’s cash payout would be nearly $213 million before taxes. Lottery officials say they’re unsure what effect Thanksgiving and beginning of Christmas shopping season will have on sales, which normally pick up in the days before high-dollar drawings.

Iran scolds Turkey for seeking missiles

Iran lashed out Friday at Turkey for requesting that NATO supply it with Patriot surface-to-air missiles to deploy along the border with Syria, denouncing the step by Ankara as counterproductive.

Iranian parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani made the remarks after a visit to Damascus, a show of support by Tehran to its increasingly diplomatically isolated ally.

Turkey’s request earlier this week follows several incidents in which violence has spilled across the border from the civil war in Syria, frequently mortar rounds falling a short distance inside.

NATO said Wednesday it will consider the request “without delay.”

EU nations face budget deadlock

A summit of the European Union’s 27 national leaders, charged with agreeing on a long-term budget for the bloc, broke up Friday afternoon without being able to reach a deal.

Coming just days after the 17 eurogroup finance ministers failed, yet again, to agree on the conditions for releasing badly needed bailout money for Greece, the failure of the two-day summit raises questions about how the bloc makes important decisions. In most cases, unanimity is required, meaning that each country wields veto power.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, who presides over the summits, said the “constructive discussions” at the summit meant an agreement could be reached early next year.

Victim IDd after Elkhart bar shooting

Authorities have identified a 25-year-old man fatally shot at a northern Indiana bar during gunfire that also wounded two women.

Elkhart County Sheriff’s Capt. Jim Bradberry identified the slain man as Cordera Edmond Williams-El of Elkhart.

Bradberry says Williams-El died after being shot in the chest about 3 a.m. Friday at the Gemini Bar and Grill near Elkhart.

Bradberry says the names of two female bystanders who were also shot are being withheld.

Witnesses told officers the bar along U.S. 33 in a suburban area just south of Elkhart was relatively quiet before the gunfire that also shattered windows of a car parked near the bar’s entrance. No arrests were immediately made.

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