RED BLUFF, Calif.

No sign of fire before crash, accident investigators say

Federal investigators said Sunday that they haven’t found physical evidence confirming a witness’ claim that a FedEx truck was on fire before it slammed into a bus carrying high school students, killing 10 people in Northern California.

National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind said investigators are not ruling out a pre-impact fire, but a fire specialist did not find evidence of flames as the truck crossed a median, sideswiped a Nissan Altima and crashed into the bus.

Five students, three adult chaperones and both drivers died in Thursday’s collision in Orland. Dozens were injured with cuts and burns.

The driver of the Altima, who survived with minor injuries, told investigators and reporters Saturday that she had seen flames emerging from the lower rear of the truck’s cab as it approached her car.

The biggest questions for investigators include why the truck left its lane and left no tire marks, suggesting the driver did not brake.

VALPARAISO, Chile

Blaze spreads on hilltops, destroying 1,000 homes

A raging fire leaped from hilltop to hilltop in this colorful port city throughout the night and day Sunday, killing at least 11 people and destroying at least 1,000 homes. More than 10,000 people were evacuated, including more than 200 female inmates at a prison.

And with hot dry winds stoking the embers, the fires were still burning out of control as a second night approached.

The blaze began Saturday afternoon in a forested area above ramshackle housing on one of the city’s 42 hilltops, and spread quickly as hot ash rained down over wooden houses and narrow streets. Electricity failed as the fire grew, with towering flames turning the night sky orange.

Neighborhoods on six hilltops were reduced to ashes, including one hill just several blocks from Chile’s parliament building.

KABUL, Afghanistan

Two front-runners emerge in presidential vote results

Two clear front-runners emerged in Afghanistan’s presidential election as partial results released Sunday showed a tight race that increasingly appears destined for a runoff vote.

Both candidates promise a fresh start with the West, vowing to sign a security pact with the United States that has been rejected by President Hamid Karzai, but their fierce rivalry has raised the possibility of divisive campaigning in what so far has been a relatively peaceful vote.

With 10 percent of the ballots counted, Abdullah Abdullah, who was Karzai’s main rival in his fraud-marred re-election in 2009, had 41.9 percent of the vote. Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, a former finance minister and World Bank official, followed with 37.6 percent.

Officials cautioned the vote count could change as full preliminary results won’t be due until April 24.

VERACRUZ, Mexico

At least three dozen killed as bus slams into truck

A passenger bus slammed into a broken-down truck and burst into flames, killing at least 36 people Sunday in southern Mexico, the Veracruz state government reported.

A communique from the state civil defense agency said the victims were business people from the region who were traveling from the Tabasco state capital of Villahermosa to Mexico City.

The agency’s emergency director, Ricardo Maza Limon, said the victims apparently burned to death inside the bus, which was so badly charred the tires melted.

– From news service reports