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WORLD IN BRIEF: Europe storm death toll at 62; France hit hard

Europe storm death toll at 62; France hit hard

PARIS -- Rescue workers in dinghies cruised flooded streets on France's Atlantic coast Monday, searching for people still trapped in their homes by storms that smashed through concrete sea walls and killed at least 62 people across Western Europe.

The storm, called Xynthia, blew into France early Sunday with hurricane-force winds, flooding ports, destroying homes and leaving 1 million households without electricity. It also battered Belgium, Portugal, Spain and parts of Germany and snarled train and air travel throughout the continent.

President Nicolas Sarkozy toured the worst-hit areas Monday, the coastal regions of Vendee and Charente-Maritime, and pledged $4 million in emergency aid.

Warship sinks pirate ship off Somalia

BRUSSELS -- A NATO destroyer has sunk a pirate mothership in the Indian Ocean off the Somali coast after allowing the crew to leave, the alliance said Monday.

Shona Lowe, an anti-piracy spokeswoman, said the HDMS Absalon -- the Danish flagship of the three-vessel NATO flotilla in the region -- disrupted a pirate operation by ''scuttling'' one of the large boats used by Somali gangs to transport attack teams to piracy hunting areas far off the coast.

The mothership was fired on and sunk after its crew members were transferred to a smaller boat in tow, which was allowed to return to the mainland, she said.

Putin: Russia to build new bomber

MOSCOW -- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday that Russia will build a new strategic bomber, a move that comes as the nation tries to upgrade its aging military arsenal.

Putin said in televised remarks that work on the bomber must follow the development of a prospective stealth fighter, which made its maiden flight in January and was hailed by the government as a big step in military modernization efforts.

''We won't limit ourselves to just one new model,'' Putin said at a government meeting that focused on military aviation. ''We must start work on a prospective long-range aircraft, our new strategic bomber.''