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WORLD IN BRIEF: Brazil woman finds gator behind couch after flood

Brazil woman finds gator behind couch after flood

SAO PAULO — After floodwaters receded from her home, a Brazilian woman was shocked to find a most unwelcome house guest: a 5-foot alligator lying tamely in the living room as her 3-year-old son petted the reptile’s head.

The animal apparently was washed inside by the high water Monday night, said Luiz Claudio Farias, a captain of firefighters in the north-central city of Parauapebas.

When the woman went to clean up the following day, she saw the boy playing with something behind the couch, Farias said. It turned out to be a gator.

‘‘She snatched the boy away and called us,’’ he said.

Farias said it was lucky the reptile apparently wasn’t in the mood for a meal: ‘‘If he was hungry, he could have seriously hurt or even killed the boy.’’

Earthquake toll at 75 dead, 300 missing

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — The sister and brother sat huddled Wednesday on sodden grass, staring at the smoldering remains of an office tower that collapsed with their mother inside.

They hadn’t heard from Donna Manning since a powerful earthquake tore through one of New Zealand’s largest cities a day earlier, killing at least 75 people and leaving some 300 missing in the rubble. Still, there was hope.

‘‘My mum is superwoman, she’d do anything,’’ Manning’s 18-year-old daughter Lizzy said, tears streaming down her face.

It was a dark moment that was repeated many times over Wednesday as rescuers searched for any signs of life in the twisted rubble of Christchurch. Prime Minister John Key declared the quake a national disaster and analysts estimated its cost at up to $12 billion.

Israeli tanks strike Gaza after mortar attack

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Israeli tank fire wounded 11 people, including at least six militants, in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday following an attack on an Israeli patrol, the military and Palestinian officials said. One of the wounded later died in a hospital.

The Israeli military said its tanks opened fire after the militants detonated a bomb targeting the Israeli patrol near the border and then fired mortars at the soldiers.

— From wire reports