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story.lead_photo.caption Rescue workers search Tuesday for people trapped under a collapsed building after an earthquake in Shuanghe Town in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, in this photo released by the Xinhua News Agency.

China quake levels homes; deaths at 12

BEIJING — Rescue efforts were underway Tuesday after an earthquake in southwestern China left 12 people dead and 135 others injured, authorities said.

Hundreds of firefighters arrived early Tuesday and rescued at least eight trapped people, the Chinese emergency agency said.

State broadcaster China Central Television showed soldiers using a chain saw to cut through a wooden door and rescue a couple under a kitchen wall.

More than 4,400 people have been evacuated after 73 houses collapsed, authorities said.

Most of the deaths were caused by damage to houses, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

A major highway and sections of other roads were closed, Xinhua said. China Central Television showed a landslide down a hill and onto a road.

Sichuan emergency management said direct economic losses exceeded $1.4 million.

A 6.0-magnitude earthquake and a 5.1-magnitude aftershock struck the area in Sichuan province late Monday. Aftershocks continued into Tuesday morning.

Reports differ on Mexico copter crash

MEXICO CITY — A helicopter crash killed the pilot and injured three women, and police who went to the scene were fired at by gunmen, security officials in Mexico state said Tuesday. A news report quoted a witness as denying there were any armed men and accusing officers of shooting the aircraft.

Officers responding to a 911 call in Sultepec municipality found the downed helicopter but also armed men in six pickups, a state security official said. The official said shooting broke out, but declined to give further details, speaking on condition of anonymity.

No bullet wounds were found in the dead pilot or the three hospitalized women, said a statement from prosecutors in Mexico state, which borders Mexico City on three sides.

The security official said the cause of the helicopter’s fall Sunday night was still under investigation.

The official denied an account by the Mexican news site Proceso in which a witness claimed uniformed officers shot the helicopter.

Encephalitis kills 106 children in India

PATNA, India — More than 100 children have died in an encephalitis outbreak in India’s eastern state of Bihar, authorities said Tuesday.

Bihar health secretary Sanjay Kumar said 106 children had died and more than 430 others between the ages of 4 and 10 were being treated at hospitals in Muzaffarpur district, 50 miles north of Patna, the state capital.

Despite the deaths, Kumar said the mortality rate among children from encephalitis, which can cause swelling of the brain, high fever and regurgitation, had dropped to 26.5% from 34% a year ago.

Young children are particularly vulnerable.

Villagers crowded outside Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital in Muzaffarpur, where some of the sick children are being treated, to protest a visit by Bihar’s chief minister, whom they accused of visiting the area only after the death toll passed 100. Left-wing political organizations also rallied in New Delhi, demanding that the Bihar government do more to prevent what has become an annual outbreak.

“This acute encephalitis syndrome has been recurring in Bihar and the government has not taken any steps. And who is dying? It is the children of the very poor,” said Mariam Dhawale of the All India Democratic Women’s Association.

Ex-Marine cleared in Serbia arms case

BELGRADE, Serbia — A Serbian court on Tuesday acquitted a former U.S. Marine charged with illegal possession and distribution of weapons, saying there was not enough evidence.

The case of Daniel Corbett, reportedly a U.S. Navy SEAL reservist, has made headlines in Serbia since he was arrested in a Belgrade apartment along with three Serbs in January last year.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said that at the time of his arrest Corbett was in possession of a firearm with an erased serial number.

Pro-Russian, government-controlled Serbian tabloids had claimed the American citizen planned to assassinate a senior Serb politician and destabilize the country.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who was said to be one of the targets of the assassination plan, commented at the time that it was obvious that Corbett was not in Serbia “to shoot fish in the Danube River.”

Corbett’s case drew more attention after his lawyer was gunned down in Belgrade last summer. That crime remains unsolved.

BuzzFeed News reported that Corbett served with Navy SEAL units in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the SEAL team that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

A security officer guards the gate Tuesday in front of a court- house in Belgrade, Serbia, where a former U.S. Marine was acquitted of weapons charges.

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