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Associated Press
Firefighters on Thursday douse the frozen rubble of a seniors’ residence in Quebec, Canada, where a fire left three people dead and 30 unaccounted for.
Nation/World

5 dead, 30 missing in Quebec nursing home fire

L’ISLE-VERTE, Quebec – A fire raged through a seniors’ home in eastern Quebec on Thursday, trapping residents dependent on wheelchairs and walkers. Five died, about 30 were missing, and Canada’s prime minister said there is little doubt the death toll will be high.

Officials said firefighters saw and heard people in the building that they were unable to save.

Many of those unaccounted for were confined to wheelchairs and walkers, and only five residents in the center were fully autonomous, said Ginette Caron, acting mayor of the small town of L’Isle-Verte, about 140 miles northeast of Quebec City.

Nation

Passengers hurt as bus driver attacked

A passenger on a Greyhound bus traveling through Arizona “went berserk” and attacked the driver early Thursday, causing the bus to swerve violently and go off the highway before other passengers subdued him, witnesses and authorities said.

People were thrown from their seats after the California man, who reportedly was hallucinating, screamed “Everybody’s going to die,” grabbed the wheel and pummeled the driver. More than half of the roughly 40 passengers were hurt, including three who were flown to a Phoenix hospital.

“Everybody is jumping and flying and screaming,” passenger Susana Ordinola, 48, of San Bernardino, Calif., said of the ordeal.

When the Dallas-bound bus finally stopped, the 25-year-old man and a female companion got off and ran into the desert, only to return about a half hour later. Some passengers cursed and threw rocks at the man before paramedics stopped them.

Arrests made in ‘Goodfellas’ heist

More than 30 years after hooded gunmen pulled a $6 million airport heist dramatized in the hit Martin Scorsese movie “Goodfellas,” an elderly reputed mobster was arrested at his New York City home Thursday and charged in the robbery and a 1969 murder.

Vincent Asaro, 78, was named along with his son, Jerome, and three other defendants in wide-ranging indictment alleging murder, robbery, extortion, arson and other crimes from the late 1960s through last year.

The indictment accused Vincent Asaro of helping to direct the Dec. 11, 1978, Lufthansa Airlines heist at Kennedy airport, one of the largest cash thefts in American history.

According to court papers, an unidentified mob associate who pleaded guilty and became a cooperating witness told investigators that he participated in the robbery at the direction of Asaro.

World

Mediator meeting with Syrian sides

Syria’s government said stopping terrorism – not talking peace – was its priority, while the Western-backed opposition said “the road to negotiations” had begun, offering a glimmer of hope Thursday for a way to halt the violence that has killed more than 130,000 people.

The two sides did not meet face-to-face during long-awaited talks in Geneva, buffered instead by U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, who shuttled between representatives of Syrian President Bashar Assad and members of the opposition trying to overthrow him. And they did not seem ready to do so today as originally scheduled.

Both sides affirmed positions hardened after nearly three years of fighting. They blamed each other for turning a once-thriving country into ruins, and they called each other terrorists.

Cease-fire signed in South Sudan

South Sudan’s government and rebels signed a cease-fire deal Thursday that leaders hope will put a pause to five weeks of warfare that has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians.

The peace deal represents the first real progress since political friction turned violent Dec. 15, fueling countrywide battles with ethnic overtones. But questions were immediately raised about whether all fighters in South Sudan would abide by the agreement, and how long others would follow it.

Council accused of ordering gang rape

A 20-year-old Indian woman said she was gang-raped on the orders of a village council because she fell in love with a man from a different ethnic group, police said Thursday.

Twelve suspects and the head of the council have been arrested for the Monday night attack, police said. She was hospitalized Thursday in serious condition.

TV news reports said the man visited the woman’s village, Subalpur, on Monday to propose marriage but was caught by other villagers, and the man and woman were tied to a tree while the village council decided their fate, the reports said.

Police official C. Sudhakar said the village council fined the man and woman each $400. When the woman’s family said they were too poor, the council ordered the gang rape, police said.

Ukrainian protesters urged to keep truce

A top Ukrainian opposition leader Thursday urged protesters to maintain a shaky cease-fire with police after at least two demonstrators were killed in clashes this week, but some in the crowd appeared defiant, jeering and chanting “revolution” and “shame.”

Emerging from hours-long talks with President Viktor Yanukovych, opposition leader Oleh Tyahnybok asked demonstrators in Kiev for several more days of a truce, saying the president has agreed to ensure the release of dozens of detained protesters and stop further detentions.

The developments came as hundreds of enraged protesters in several regions in western Ukraine, where Yanukovych has little support, seized government offices and forced one governor loyal to Yanukovych to resign.

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