TOKYO -- An explosion and fire tore through a gambling parlor in a bustling Tokyo nightclub district early Saturday, killing at least 44 people and injuring dozens more, police and news reports said.
Firefighters were checking to see if any people were still in the building, Public broadcaster NHK television said. The fire was on the third and fourth floors and appeared to be extinguished.
Reports said that while many of the injured suffered burns some people were hurt when they jumped out of the building to escape the flames.
Kursk raising may be put off for a week
MOSCOW -- In the first official indication that lifting the sunken Kursk nuclear submarine may not proceed as smoothly as planned, a senior Russian official said Friday that the operation could be put off for a week because rough Arctic weather has delayed preparations.
Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, who is in charge of the salvage effort, said officials still expect to raise the Kursk on Sept. 15 and wrap up the operation by Sept. 20-21, when the submarine is to be put in dry dock near the Arctic port of Murmansk.
However, he said, the date for ending the operation could "theoretically" be pushed back to Sept. 25-27.
Astronaut: Earth marred by smoke and dust
LONDON -- The view from space of a bright blue Earth is becoming marred by smoke and dust as environmental destruction grows increasingly visible, the commander of the International Space Station said Friday.
U.S. astronaut Frank Culbertson told the British Broadcasting Corp. that the view had changed markedly since his first space mission in 1990.
"There is smoke and dust in wider spread areas than we have seen before, particularly as areas like Africa dry up in certain regions," Culbertson told the BBC.
"I have seen changes in what comes out of some of the rivers, in land usage," he added. "We see areas of the world that are being burned to clear land."
Three new cases of foot-and-mouth found
LONDON -- Fighting to contain the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, the British government said Friday that it has asked for up to 30 soldiers to help dispose of slaughtered animals in infected areas of northern England.
The move came after three new cases of the disease were confirmed Friday in Northumberland, bringing the total number of cases confirmed in the country since last Thursday to 16.
Almost 3.8 million British livestock have been slaughtered in the last six months in an attempt to contain the highly infectious virus.
Three arrested in alleged plot to bomb embassy
MANILA, Philippines -- Police have arrested a Vietnamese-American and two other men for allegedly plotting to bomb the Vietnamese Embassy in Manila, police said Friday.
Vietnamese-American Vo Van Duc, a Japanese man and a Swiss citizen planned to bomb the embassy "on or before Sunday," Vietnam's National Day, said Robert Delfin, head of national police intelligence.
He said the three were arrested in San Juan, part of metropolitan Manila, early Thursday. Delfin said police raided a town house where the men were staying and seized bomb-making materials, including bags of ammonium nitrate and blasting caps.
-- From wire reports