Death toll at 25 in Australia fires

SYDNEY - Walls of flame roared across southeastern Australia on Saturday, razing scores of homes, forests and farmland in the sunburned country's worst wildfire disaster in a quarter century. At least 25 people died and the toll could rise to more than 40, police said.

Witnesses described seeing trees exploding and skies raining ash as temperatures hit a record 117 degrees Saturday and combined with raging winds to create perfect conditions for uncontrollable blazes. A long-running drought in southern Australia - the worst in a century - has left forests extra dry.

NASA released satellite photographs showing a white cloud of smoke across southeastern Australia.

Police said they believed some of the fires were set deliberately.

Bugatti draws big bucks

LONDON - A car abandoned in a garage in Britain for half a century sold at an auction in Paris for 3.4 million euros (about $4.4 million) Friday.

The 1937 Bugatti Type 57S went under the hammer at Bonhams' Retromobile car show and sale in Paris. It was sold on behalf of the family of its last owner, Dr Harold Carr.

The orthopedic surgeon drove the car for several years, but in the early 1960s it was parked in his garage in Gosforth, where it remained for nearly 50 years until his death in 2007.

This particular car is especially valuable because it was originally owned by Earl Howe, a prominent British race car driver,

Ecuador expels US diplomat

QUITO, Ecuador - President Rafael Correa has ordered the expulsion of a U.S. diplomat who he says suspended $340,000 in annual aid to Ecuador's anti-contraband police.

Ecuador's leftist president said the United States tried to insist on veto power over the unit's commander and other personnel.

Kurdish PM bashes troop movement

IRBIL, Iraq - The prime minister of Iraq's Kurdish region accused the Arab-dominated national government Saturday of trying to use troops to seize control of the disputed city of Kirkuk, escalating tensions between Iraqi Kurds and the Arab leadership in Baghdad.

U.S. officials consider the growing Arab-Kurdish rift as one of the major threats to Iraq's stability.