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story.lead_photo.caption Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, July 2, 2019. A fire on one of the Russian navy's deep-sea submersibles killed 14 sailors, the Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday without giving the cause of the blaze or saying if there were survivors. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Fire on vessel kills 14 Russian sailors

MOSCOW -- Fire broke out on one of the Russian navy's deep-sea research submersibles, and toxic fumes from the blaze killed 14 sailors aboard, Russia's Defense Ministry said Tuesday, although it released few details about the disaster or the vessel involved.

The Defense Ministry did not say how many sailors were aboard the vessel during Monday's fire, whether there were any survivors or if it was submerged at the time. But Russian media outlets reported that it was the country's most secret submersible, a nuclear-powered vessel designed for sensitive missions at great depths.

President Vladimir Putin canceled a scheduled appearance and immediately summoned Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for a briefing on the blaze, which was under investigation.

The fire occurred while the submersible was measuring sea depths in Russia's territorial waters, the ministry said, adding that the vessel also is used for studying the seabed.

Russia's RBC online news outlet and the Novaya Gazeta newspaper identified it as the nuclear-powered AS-12 Losharik.

The vessel is the most advanced Russian submersible. It is believed to have entered service in 2010.

Europe predicted to heat up more

BELGRADE, Serbia -- As Serbia and the rest of the Balkans sizzled in the heat, international experts assessing climate change warned that Europe faces the prospect of more frequent and more intense heat waves.

In a report Tuesday that involved an assessment of temperatures in the French city of Toulouse last Wednesday through Friday, World Weather Attribution said every heat wave occurring in Europe today "is made more likely and more intense by human-induced climate change."

They found the extreme conditions measured during that three-day period are five to 10 times more likely now than they were in 1900, before greenhouse-gas emissions from industry had a major effect on the atmosphere.

The group said the hot spell that struck large parts of Europe last week "broke several historical records ... in France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic and Spain."

The study hasn't been peer-reviewed yet, but the group uses methods that are widely considered valid in the scientific community.

With the heat wave moving toward eastern Europe, temperatures soared Tuesday to 102.2 Fahrenheit in Serbia.

Italy house arrest of captain lifted

ROME -- The sea captain who rammed a German aid group's rescue ship into an Italian police boat while trying to take 40 migrants ashore should be freed from house arrest, a judge in Sicily ruled Tuesday night.

Police arrested Carola Rackete, 31, before dawn Saturday after she steered the ship to a dock at Italy's tiny Lampedusa island without authorization to enter the port and in defiance of Italy's anti-migrant interior minister.

Italian state TV said Judge Alessandra Vella concluded that Rackete was "doing her duty saving lives."

Nonprofit group Sea-Watch tweeted "Our #Carola is free" after the state broadcaster reported the ruling.

Rackete has attracted public attention in much of Germany and in Italy, especially among those who oppose the populist Italian government's crackdown on private rescue boats that ply the Mediterranean to pull migrants from unseaworthy vessels used by smugglers from Libya.

But Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has repeatedly said he would have Rackete expelled from Italy.

"Ignoring the law and ramming a motorboat of border police officers aren't enough motives to go to jail," Salvini tweeted sarcastically after the ruling was announced.

A Section on 07/03/2019

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