Navy divers confirm vessel is ship sunk by Japanese

Navy divers have confirmed that a sunken vessel in the Java Sea is the World War II wreck of the USS Houston, a cruiser sunk by the Japanese that serves as the final resting place for about 700 sailors and Marines, officials said Monday.

The Japanese sank the Houston during the Battle of Sunda Strait on Feb. 28, 1942. The ship carried 1,068 crewmen, but only 291 sailors and Marines survived both the attack and being prisoners of war. The Houston’s commanding officer, Capt. Albert H. Rooks, posthumously received the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism.

U.S. Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Harry Harris said Monday that divers have documented evidence the watery gravesite has been disturbed. Officials are working to keep the site from further disturbance.


Youngster dies after falling from National Park trail

An 8-year-old girl has died after falling about 550 feet while hiking in Yellowstone National Park.

The National Park Service said the accident occurred Sunday in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It identified the victim as Zahra Allahyari of Poway, California.

According to the Park Service, the girl and members of her family were hiking down a trail on the north side of the canyon to the Brink of the Lower Falls overlook. The agency said the child apparently stepped off the trail and lost her footing.


Twice as many jurors called for woman’s murder trial

A judge will screen twice as many as the usual number of potential jurors for the capital murder trial of an Alabama woman accused of making her 9-year-old granddaughter run until she collapsed and died.

Circuit Judge Billy Ogletree said Monday that there could be “publicity issues” in selecting a jury for the case, which has received widespread news coverage.

Ogletree told lawyers he would call about 750 potential jurors; courthouse officials say about 375 are called for a typical trial. The trial of 49-year-old Joyce Hardin Garrard is set for Sept. 22.

Prosecutors say Garrard forced Savannah Hardin to run for about three hours in February 2012 as punishment for a lie. Savannah collapsed and died days later.

Hardin says she’s innocent and blames the death on the girl’s medical problems.


Female panda euthanized after suffering brain swelling

The National Zoo says a female red panda has been euthanized at a conservation center in Virginia after suffering brain swelling associated with a microscopic parasite.

The 7-year-old red panda named Shama died Saturday. She became well-known at the zoo as the mate of Rusty, who escaped the zoo last year. Shama gave birth to three cubs this summer but developed a brain disorder that quickly progressed.

Shama, Rusty and the cubs were housed at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia.


Strong earthquake shakes mountainous region of Iran

A strong, magnitude 6.2 earthquake jolted a sparsely populated mountainous province near Iran’s border with Iraq on Monday, Iranian state television reported.

There were no reports of fatalities but a local official said 60 people were injured and the temblor caused widespread damage.

—From news service reports