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Low Mississippi River levels likely to persist

MEMPHIS

Low River levels likely to persist

Low water levels that are restricting shipping traffic, forcing harbor closures and causing barges to run aground on the economically vital Mississippi River are expected to continue into October, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials said Tuesday.

Major Gen. John Peabody said that five harbors — in Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi — are closed, and several others have limited access due to low water levels along the nation's most important inland waterway.

More than 100 tow boats and barges remain backed up near Greenville, Miss. The U.S. Coast Guard opened an 11-mile stretch of river that had been closed near Greenville, replacing it with a 5-mile zone where only lighter vessels can pass.

California

Fire hits 50 buildings, including many homes

Dozens of buildings, many of them likely homes, have been destroyed in a fire burning outside the Northern California community of Manton, fire officials said Tuesday night.

Fire crews assessing the rural area determined that 50 buildings had been destroyed, state fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

Officials didn't have an accurate count yet of how many of the structures were homes, but Berlant noted the buildings were spread across a vast rural area of mostly residential homes.

The blaze, which was sparked by lightning Saturday, has consumed 33 square miles.

CHICAGO

Hotel issues alert on Legionnaires' disease

Three cases of Legionnaires' disease — a severe form of pneumonia — have been linked to a downtown Chicago hotel where 8,500 guests might have been exposed to the illness between July 16 and Aug. 15.

The JW Marriott Chicago Hotel is mailing letters to customers who might have been exposed. About 65 percent of the letters had been mailed as of Tuesday, a hotel spokesman said.

Marriott has drained its pool, hot tub and fountain, leading the city Department of Public Health to say it believes there is "no ongoing health risk at the hotel."

WESTFIELD, Mass.

Couple die as they try to rescue dog in lake

A Massachusetts couple boating on a lake drowned after jumping into the water to rescue their dog, who survived.

Police said the small dog named jumped into Hampton Ponds in Westfield on Monday night, prompting Donald Cyr, 64, to follow his pet into the lake. Police said he became distressed and his wife, Patricia Cyr, 61, tried to rescue him.

The dog was taken to an animal shelter.

Elsewhere

Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday condemned the brutal beating of a Palestinian teenager by a gang of Jewish youths shouting anti-Arab slurs last week.

Russia: Hackers on Tuesday brought down the website of the court where three members of the Pussy Riot punk band were sentenced to two years in prison for an irreverent protest against President Vladimir Putin.

South Africa: The defense minister apologized Tuesday for the police shootings that killed 34 striking miners.

KEY WEST: Diana Nyad ended her fourth attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida on Tuesday, her dream of setting a record thwarted by storms, jellyfish stings, shark threats, hypothermia and swollen lips.

Times wires

Low Mississippi River levels likely to persist

08/21/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 1:32am]

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