NZ residents terrified by earthquake
LYTTELTON, New Zealand — At the epicenter, children in the school playground screamed as the earth rattled and cracked. Elderly residents toppled to the floor in the nursing home. Cliff faces fell, spitting truck-sized boulders across lawns and through houses.
This week’s massive earthquake flattened office towers and killed at least 113 people in nearby Christchurch. But this tiny harborside village reported no deaths despite being at ground zero.
Residents are thankful for that. But there is devastation all around them.
‘‘I thought the devil was coming up out of the earth,’’ said Kevin Fitzgerald, a 63-year-old teacher’s aide who yanked a student under a desk and sheltered him as the school rocked menacingly, sending everything crashing to the floor.
Egyptian TV head arrested
CAIRO — Egyptian authorities on Thursday arrested the country’s former information minister and the chairman of state TV and radio on corruption allegations, the latest moves by the country’s ruling military against senior officials of Hosni Mubarak’s ousted regime, security officials said.
In south Cairo, an angry crowd of some 500 people torched two police cars and beat up a young officer who shot a minibus driver in the heat of an argument over the right of way.
Wal-Mart to open 445 stores in Mexico
MEXICO CITY — Wal-Mart de Mexico says it will spend $1.6 billion to expand its operations in Mexico and Central America this year, with plans to open 445 stores.
Thursday’s announcement comes two days after parent company Wal-Mart Stores Inc. issued an earnings report showing it has relied on international growth and cost-cutting to offset sluggish U.S. sales.
Wal-Mart de Mexico now operates more than 2,000 retail stores and restaurants.
Youth murder rate up in Brazil
BRASILIA, Brazil — The murder rate among Brazil’s youths has soared to epidemic levels, almost doubling between 1998 and 2008, the Justice Ministry said Thursday.
In its ‘‘Map of Violence’’ report, the ministry said the number of Brazilians aged 15 to 24 murdered rose from 30 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1998 to 52.9 a decade later. It did not say why the murder rate increased.