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Briefs

Congressional offices receive threats

– Some congressional offices outside Washington and media organizations have received threatening letters containing a suspicious powdery substance that was tested and proved to be harmless, the FBI and the Senate’s top law enforcement officer said Wednesday.

Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer said in a memo to Senate offices that the letters were sent to three state and home district offices. A district office of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, received one of the letters, spokesman Kevin Smith said.

Letters were also sent to several media organizations. Preliminary tests showed that the powder did not pose a threat, he said.

Teen dies after inhaling helium

A teenage party in Oregon that combined booze, marijuana and a tank of helium turned deadly last week after a 14-year-old passed out and died.

Ashley Long, 14, suffered an embolism from the pressurized tank, depriving her brain of oxygen.

The death sheds light on the deadly effects of helium, usually misused by people as a trick to give their voice a cartoon character sound.

But the death exposes the rare but real dangers of inhaling helium, especially from a pressurized tank.

Experts say parents should talk to their children about the dangers of ingesting any substance – especially while drinking.

Gunman targeted family in spa attack

The gunman who fatally shot two of his sisters and their husbands inside a Korean spa in an Atlanta suburb had been asked to leave because he was being disruptive but came back hours later, authorities said Wednesday.

Surveillance video from the nearby Norcross shopping center showed a man walking into the Su Jung Health Sauna on Tuesday night and arguing with someone before opening fire, police said. Four people were found dead inside, and another was taken to a hospital before being pronounced dead, Norcross police Capt. Brian Harr said.

The carnage could have been worse – about 20 people were inside the spa when the gunfire erupted.

2 children abducted on road found safe

Authorities say they are searching for a man they believe kidnapped two young children after offering help to their mother after the family car broke down along an Atlanta-area interstate.

Police say the children were subsequently found uninjured with two women, who reported a male acquaintance had asked them to baby-sit the pair.

Police said the man has not been identified, and the two women knew him only by a nickname.

WORLD

Train hits station in Argentina; 49 dead

A train packed with morning commuters slammed into a downtown station in Buenos Aires on Wednesday, killing 49 people and injuring hundreds as passenger cars crumpled and windows exploded around them. It was Argentina’s worst train accident in decades.

The cause wasn’t immediately determined, but many pointed to a deteriorating rail system. Some passengers reported signs the conductor was struggling with the brakes before the crash, saying he kept overshooting platforms and missed one entirely.

8 bodies found in capsized cruise ship

Divers searching the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy found eight bodies Wednesday on one of the passenger decks, including that of a missing 5-year-old Italian girl, authorities said.

Italy’s national civil protection agency said four of the bodies had been recovered, but because of worsening weather, the divers were unable to remove the others. That operation will resume today, if seas are calm.

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