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WORLD IN BRIEF: US: 4 American hostages killed by pirates

US: 4 American hostages killed by pirates

NAIROBI, Kenya — A pirate fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a U.S. Navy destroyer shadowing a hijacked yacht with four Americans aboard Tuesday. Then gunfire erupted, the military said. U.S. special forces rushed to the yacht only to find the four Americans fatally wounded.

The experienced yacht enthusiasts from California and Washington are the first Americans killed by Somali pirates since the start of attacks off East Africa several years ago. One of the American couples on board had been sailing around the world since 2004 handing out Bibles.

Their deaths appeared to underscore an increasingly brutal and aggressive shift by pirates in their treatment of hostages.

Killing hostages ‘‘has now become part of our rules,’’ said a pirate who identified himself as Muse Abdi.

Dozens trapped by New Zealand earthquake

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — Some screamed from inside collapsed buildings. One woman used her cell phone to call her children to say goodbye. Others tapped on the rubble to communicate with those on the outside.

Search teams using dogs, heavy cranes and earth movers worked through dawn Wednesday in one of New Zealand’s largest cities, trying frantically to find survivors amid the crumbled concrete, twisted metal and huge mounds of brick left by a powerful earthquake.

But they fear that the death toll — officially at least 65 as of Wednesday morning local time — could quickly rise, ranking the disaster among the island nation’s worst earthquakes in 80 years. Officials said at least 100 more people are missing.

Countries trying to evacuate citizens in Libya

ANKARA, Turkey — Governments scrambled by air and sea to pick up their citizens stranded by Libya’s bloody unrest on Tuesday, with thousands of Turks crowding into a stadium to await evacuation and Egyptians gathering at the border to escape the chaos.

At least two airlines, British Airways and Emirates, the Middle East’s largest, said they were canceling flights to Tripoli, as reports spread that bodies of protesters littered the streets of neighborhoods in the capital.