NAIROBI, Kenya

Gasoline explosion in slum kills 61, burns at least 116

More than 60 people died Monday in a densely populated Nairobi slum after an explosion and fire caused by gasoline from a leaking pipe.

At least 116 badly burned people, many of them children, were taken to hospitals. Many were not expected to survive, as medical staff struggled with shortages of blood for transfusions.

Witnesses described a scene from hell: charred bodies strewn around the area and floating in a nearby river, where burning people had jumped into the water to extinguish flames.

Officials said 61 bodies had been recovered, with the death toll likely to rise as more bodies were found.

The precise number of dead and their identities may never be known. Some people were so badly burned that only skeletons remained.

The blast occurred in the Sinai slum district about 9 a.m., after fuel leaked from a depot owned by the Kenya Pipeline Co. and through a drain pipe into a river, according to residents. At dawn, the smell of gasoline rising from the gutters sent residents scurrying for buckets to collect the spilled fuel.

Police suspected a cigarette butt thrown near the spilled fuel may have sparked the inferno.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.

Prison reform group sues over background check fee

PJ Longoni has shelled out hundreds of dollars to pay for toiletries, a TV and legal fees for family and friends locked up in Arizona prisons. When she learned she’d have to pay a one-time $25 background check fee to visit her son, she was angry.

Under a new state law, some adults who want to visit incarcerated inmates must pay the fee, with the money raised going toward maintaining 10 state-run prisons.

“For me, it is not the $25 fee that is an issue,” she said. “It is when it is combined with the other costs of caring for an inmate, then it becomes a burden to me.”

A prison reform group sued the corrections department, saying the fee was arbitrary, unconstitutional and amounted to a tax on an already vulnerable segment of residents. Corrections officials say the fees will ensure inmates are safe.

Since the law went into effect July 20, there has been confusion, with potential visitors wondering whether they would have to pay and why a fee for a background check would go toward building repairs. Some worried that the fee would reduce the number of visitors, eliminating the kinds of family contact with prisoners that could improve the chances for rehabilitation.

NEW YORK

Sept. 11 memorial opens to public at ground zero

Exactly 10 years ago, ground zero was a smoking, fire-spitting tomb, a ghastly pile of rubble and human remains. On Monday it was a place of serenity — an expanse of trees and water in the middle of a bustling city — as the 9/11 memorial opened to the public.

As they walked through a grove of oaks and traced their fingers over the names of the nearly 3,000 dead, visitors were deeply moved by the monument, whose centerpiece is two sunken pools ringed by bronze plaques.

“When we walked in, those images were popping in my head from 10 years ago,” said Laura Pajar of Las Vegas. “But when I saw the memorial, all of that went away. This is so peaceful, and you kind of forget about what happened and you look toward the future.”

About 7,000 people registered online for free tickets to visit on opening day, and 400,000 are signed up for the coming months, according to the nonprofit organization that oversees the memorial.

Many visitors made pencil-and-paper rubbings of the names. Others sat on benches or clustered for photos. Some people cried; others embraced. Some left flowers or stuffed messages into the letters.

SYDNEY, Australia

Bionic ear maker recalling its award-winning devices

Bionic ear maker Cochlear has been forced to begin a global recall of the world’s thinnest hearing implants after some stopped working.

The Sydney-based company, which dominates the world’s bionic ear market, said on Monday it was mystified as to why some of its award-winning Nucleus CI500 devices were suddenly shutting down.

The company has begun recalling its entire Nucleus CI500 range, which makes up the bulk of its sales, from shelves after a rise in the number of faults with the CI512 model.