World

TORONTO - It’s beginning to feel like SARS revisited.

For some of the scientists and doctors who helped the world battle the 2003 SARS outbreak, the recent rapid rise in human infections in several Middle Eastern countries caused by a cousin virus is creating a sense of sharp unease.

Cases of Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome — MERS — have shot up markedly in the past month, driven it appears by outbreaks in hospitals or among health-care workers in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates.

MOKPO, Korea, Republic Of - The captain of a sunken South Korean ferry was arrested Saturday on suspicion of negligence and abandoning people in need, as investigators looked into whether his evacuation order came too late to save lives. Two crew members were also arrested, a prosecutor said.

The disaster three days ago left more than 270 people missing and at least 29 people dead.

WASHINGTON - A judge has set Monday as the start date for the assault trial of singer Chris Brown in the nation's capital.

During a brief court appearance Friday in which he wore a suit and tie, Brown turned to wave and salute supporters in the courtroom including his mother and the rapper Bow Wow.

HONOLULU - Credit card receipts, telephone records and production schedules show that "X-Men" franchise director Bryan Singer was not in Hawaii when a lawsuit claims he sexually abused a 17-year-old on the islands, a defence attorney said Friday.

Singer was mainly in Toronto working on the first "X-Men" movie from August through October 1999, defence attorney Marty Singer told The Associated Press.

ACAPULCO, Mexico - A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake at about 9:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m. EDT; 1430 GMT) was centred on a long-dormant fault line northwest of the Pacific resort of Acapulco, where many Mexicans are vacationing for the Easter holiday.

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - A prosecutor says the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank two days ago has been arrested.

Senior prosecutor Yang Jung-jin says 68-year-old Lee Joon-seok and the crew members were detained early Saturday.

The ship, the Sewol, sank Wednesday, leaving hundreds missing and feared dead.

HOMOSASSA, Fla. - A Florida man suffocated his young, crying son so he could play video games on his Xbox and watch TV, sheriff's deputies said Friday.

Cody Wygant, 24, is charged with third-degree murder and child neglect. He was being held Friday without bail.

Sixteen-month-old Daymeon Wygant wasn't breathing when emergency crews arrived at the home Thursday morning. The child pronounced dead at a hospital, investigators said.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A Southern California exotic pet breeder who had 20,000 dead and dying rats and reptiles in a warehouse has avoided jail time but was ordered to pay more than $190,000 in restitution.

Mitchell Steven Behm, 55, of Coto de Caza, also was sentenced to five years of probation and 200 hours of community service during a hearing Wednesday.

He owned Global Captive Breeders in Lake Elsinore, 70 miles southeast of Los Angeles, which sold exotic snakes and reptiles, along with rats for reptile food.

WASHINGTON - A judge has set Monday as the start date for the assault trial of singer Chris Brown in the nation's capital.

During a brief court appearance Friday in which he wore a suit and tie, Brown turned to wave and salute supporters in the courtroom including his mother and the rapper Bow Wow.

ACAPULCO, Mexico - A powerful magnitude-7.2 earthquake shook central and southern Mexico on Friday, sending panicked people into the streets. Some walls cracked and fell, but there were no reports of major damage or casualties.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake at about 9:30 a.m. (10:30 a.m. EDT; 1430 GMT) was centred on a long-dormant fault line northwest of the Pacific resort of Acapulco, where many Mexicans are vacationing for the Easter holiday.

ALGIERS, Algeria - Algeria's frail president won a fourth term in a landslide victory, but it only masks a bigger question for this oil-rich North African nation — what now? It's still unclear who will eventually succeed the 77-year-old leader who has been in power since 1999 and deal with an emboldened opposition.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who had a stroke last year, won a staggering 81 per cent of the vote in Thursday's election despite not even appearing in his own campaign.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Authorities announced charges Friday against a man suspected in connection with about a dozen recent highway shootings that have wounded three people in the Kansas City area.

Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said at a news conference that Mohammed Whitaker has been charged with 18 felony counts and is being held on $1 million bail. Baker said Whitaker was charged with two counts of shooting into a motor vehicle and injuring a person, seven counts of shooting into a motor vehicle and nine counts of armed criminal action.

BEIRUT - A powerful car bomb exploded Friday outside a mosque in a pro-government district of central Syria, killing 14 people in the latest violence to hit the war-shattered city, state-run Syrian television reported.

The bombing occurred as worshippers left the Bilal al-Habshi mosque on the edge of Akrama after attending Friday prayers, the report said, and also wounded at least 50 people.

The area, populated mainly by Alawites, members of President Bashar Assad's minority sect, repeatedly has been targeted by car bombs.

KATMANDU, Nepal - An avalanche swept down a climbing route on Mount Everest early Friday, killing at least 12 Nepalese guides and leaving four missing in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak. Several more were injured.

The Sherpa guides had gone to fix ropes for other climbers when the avalanche struck an area known as the "popcorn field" for its bulging chunks of ice at about 6:30 a.m., Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal said from the base camp, where he was monitoring rescue efforts.

HARTFORD, Conn. - A Connecticut woman who shot and killed her two young grandsons before committing suicide last year left a note to the boys' parents saying they did not deserve to have the children.

The letter described in a police report suggests a vengeful motive for the shootings by 47-year-old Debra Denison. The report was obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information request.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Jimi Hendrix made it shriek. Buddy Holly made it swing. Stevie Ray Vaughn made it snarl.

Some of the most legendary guitarists in music history have elicited unforgettable sounds from the Fender Stratocaster, the distinctive double-cutaway guitar born in a small Fullerton, Calif., workshop 60 years ago this month.

It's far from a musical relic: It remains an essential tool for some of today's top guitarists. Vince Gill relies on it so much he calls it an "extension of my hands," while blues virtuoso Robert Cray calls it a workhorse.

HOMOSASSA, Fla. - A Florida man suffocated his young, crying son so he could play video games on his Xbox and watch TV, sheriff's deputies said Friday.

Cody Wygant, 24, is charged with third-degree murder and child neglect. He was being held Friday without bail at the Citrus County Jail.

Sixteen-month-old Daymeon Wygant wasn't breathing when emergency crews arrived at the home Thursday morning. The child pronounced dead at a hospital, investigators said.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA's small moon-orbiting spacecraft LADEE (pronounced LAH'-dee) is no more. Flight controllers confirmed early Friday that LADEE crashed into the back side of the moon.

Researchers believe the robotic explorer vaporized upon contact because of its high orbiting speed of 3,600 mph, possibly smacking into a mountain or side of a crater. As of late Thursday afternoon, the spacecraft was flying 300 feet above the lunar surface. Its altitude had been lowered on purpose to ensure a crash by Monday.

LONDON - The family of Peaches Geldof say her funeral will be take place on Easter Monday at the same church where her mother's funeral was held.

The church in Kent, southern England, is also where Geldof married her second husband, musician Tom Cohen, and where her mother, Paula Yates, married Irish musician Bob Geldof in 1986.

Peaches Geldof, a 25-year-old model, television show host and writer, died on Apr. 7 at her home in southeastern England. Police in Kent said a post-mortem examination did not reveal the cause, and a toxicology report could take several weeks.

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of - Police say a high school vice principal who had been rescued from a sinking South Korean ferry has been found hanging from a tree.

The news of the death came Friday as rescuers scrambled to find hundreds of people still missing from the ferry and feared dead.

The passengers included 325 second-year students from Danwon High School heading to a southern island on a four-day trip.

A police officer says the vice principal, identified only by his surname Kang, was found dead on the island of Jindo where rescued passengers have taken shelter.

Reaction to death of writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez:

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"A thousand years of loneliness and sadness for the death of the greatest Colombian of all time!" — Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos.

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"With the passing of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the world has lost one of its greatest visionary writers - and one of my favourites from the time I was young ... I offer my thoughts to his family and friends, whom I hope take solace in the fact that Gabo's work will live on for generations to come." — U.S. President Barack Obama.

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KATMANDU, Nepal - A Nepalese tourism official says six local guides have been killed and nine more are missing after an avalanche swept a route used to ascend the world's highest peak.

Nepal Tourism Ministry official Krishna Lamsal says the avalanche hit just below Mount Everest Camp 2 around 6:30 a.m. Friday.

He says four bodies have been recovered and rescuers are digging two more out of the snow.

Nine other Sherpa guides are still unaccounted for and believed to be buried in the snow.

MOKPO, Korea, Republic Of - Fresh questions arose about whether quicker action by the captain of a doomed ferry could have saved lives, even as rescuers scrambled to find hundreds of passengers still missing Friday and feared dead.

Officials also offered a rare look at their investigations, saying they were looking into whether a crewman's order to abruptly turn the ship contributed to the 6,852-ton Sewol ferry tilting severely to the side and filling with water Wednesday.

PERTH, Australia - A robotic submarine headed back down into the depths of the Indian Ocean on Friday to scour the seafloor for any trace of the missing Malaysian jet one month after the search began off Australia's west coast, as data from the sub's previous missions turned up no evidence of the plane.

KATMANDU, Nepal - An avalanche swept the slopes of Mount Everest on Friday along a route used to ascend the world's highest peak, and at least five climbers are feared buried, officials said.

The avalanche hit the area just below Camp 2 around 6:30 a.m. Friday, said Nepal Tourism Ministry official Madhu Sudan Burlakoti. Rescuers and fellow climbers at the base camp headed to the area to help. A helicopter was also sent from Kathmandu.