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The news at a glance...Americas

Americas

Lac-Mégantic, Quebec
Runaway train explodes: A tanker train carrying oil hurtled into a Quebec town after midnight last week, derailed, and blew up, killing at least 15 people and engulfing dozens of buildings in flames. “It was like a movie,” said Bernard Theberge, who was at a nearby bar. “It was like a wall of fire with intense heat.” Much of downtown Lac-Mégantic, a lakeside town of 6,000 near the Maine border, was destroyed, and 45 people are missing. Investigators aren’t sure whether human error, brake failure, or a criminal act was to blame. Canadian oil is increasingly being shipped by train because not enough pipelines have been built to cope with higher production.

Toronto
City becomes lake: Canada’s biggest city was flooded this week after a record-breaking storm dumped nearly four inches of rain in just two hours. The subways closed, streets became rivers, and cars floated away. One double-decker commuter train filled with water on its lower level, and 1,400 people were trapped on board for seven hours. “We’re hanging on by a thread right now,” said Mayor Rob Ford. He said the city would have to invest heavily in infrastructure to repair the damage and prepare for future floods stemming from climate change. David Phillips, a climatologist with Environment Canada, said the rain was “the most intense, wettest moment in Toronto’s history.”

Mexicali, Mexico
Counting is hard: Electoral officials halted the vote count in the election for governor of Baja California this week, citing “algorithm difficulties.” Officials had initially declared Francisco Vega, the candidate from the opposition PAN party, the winner, with 47 percent to his rival’s 44 percent, but then backtracked, saying their count was unreliable. The opposition said that the ruling PRI party, which was known for stealing elections when it ran the country for most of the 20th century, was up to its old tricks. “Once again, we are going back to the story of the ‘failing computer system,’” said Jesús Zambrano, head of the PRD, allied with PAN. “Why can’t the PRI just accept defeat?”

Santa Ines, Brazil
Referee beheaded: A penalty call in a Brazilian soccer game went horribly wrong when the referee killed the offending player on the field and was then murdered by furious fans. Referee Otavio da Silva, 20, told player Josenir dos Santos Abreu, 30, that he was out of the game. The two began to scuffle, and da Silva pulled a knife and stabbed the player to death. Fans armed with rocks poured onto the field, stoned da Silva to death, and tore his body into quarters. Local media reported that the spectators then decapitated da Silva and stuck his head on a spike in the field. One man has been arrested in the killing; police are trying to identify more perpetrators from photos and videos of the mob attack.

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