Burglar killed with own gun

NEW YORK - A man suspected of breaking into a Manhattan building was shot to death with his own gun yesterday in a struggle with two police officers, police said.

Neither of the officers discharged their weapons during the 3:40 a.m. confrontation in a mechanical room at the top of the 13-story building, New York Police Department Assistant Chief Michael Collins said.

The suspect, who hadn't been identified, was carrying a 9 mm gun wrapped inside a knotted men's nylon sock, Collins said.

An NYPD lieutenant, a sergeant and an officer responded to the burglary call at the commercial building in midtown Manhattan.

The officers found the suspect on the roof, along with tools like rope and a hacksaw in two bags near a chair, leather gloves, a shirt and a sweat shirt, police said. Three laptops, which police believed were stolen, were also found on the roof.

The lieutenant found the man hiding in the room; he and the sergeant began struggling with the suspect, when his gun went off, Collins said. The suspect died of one gunshot wound to the head, Collins said.

The suspect was wearing two latex gloves on his right hand and two pairs of pants, Collins said.

Cyclone kills 350 people

YANGON, Myanmar - A powerful cyclone killed more than 350 people and destroyed thousands of homes, state-run media said yesterday. Some dissident groups worried that the military junta running Myanmar would be reluctant to ask for international help.

Tropical Cyclone Nargis hit at a delicate time for the junta, less than a week ahead of a crucial referendum on a new constitution. Should the junta be seen as failing disaster victims, voters who already blame the regime for ruining the economy and squashing democracy could take out their frustrations at the ballot box.

Some in Yangon complained the 400,000-strong military was doing little to help victims after Saturday's storm.

"Where are all those uniformed people who are always ready to beat civilians?" said a trishaw driver who refused to be identified for fear of retribution. "They should come out in full force and help clean up the areas and restore electricity."

Myanmar, also known as Burma, has been under military rule since 1962.

Boat sinks, 12 known dead

SAO PAULO, Brazil - A boat with 110 people aboard sank in the Brazilian Amazon yesterday, killing at least 12 people and leaving dozens missing, authorities said.

The Comandante Sales capsized before sinking swiftly on the Solimoes River, one of the largest branches of the Amazon, Fire Lt. Col. Raimundo Rodrigues da Silva said. The vessel was carrying passengers who were returning from a party near the jungle city of Manaus, he said.

The bodies of 10 women and two men were recovered and several dozen people were unaccounted for, Silva said. The victims had not been identified and it is unlikely the boat kept a passenger list, he said.

Bolivian state wants out

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia - Bolivia's largest state voted yesterday on a sweeping autonomy referendum that leaders said would forge "a new Bolivia," defying leftist President Evo Morales who called the vote unconstitutional.

Minor clashes across Santa Cruz state injured at least 25 people during the politically charged vote, which sought to separate the state's freewheeling capitalism and mixed-blood heritage from Morales' vision of a communal state ruled by indigenous Andean values.

Relatives of a 70-year-old man said he was killed when police fired tear gas to break up one scuffle between pro- and anti-autonomy factions. The information could not be confirmed with authorities.

Pre-election polls showed the referendum drawing as much as 70 percent support, though they were conducted by local news media sympathetic to the cause.

"This is a peaceful revolution," Santa Cruz Gov. Ruben Costas proclaimed Sunday. "A new Bolivia is reborn from our decision."

Morales called the measure illegal, unconstitutional and dictatorial. The vote went ahead despite an order to postpone it by Bolivia's top electoral court, and few international observers were present.

A celebratory mood prevailed yesterday in most of the state capital, which is also called Santa Cruz.

The state's green-and-white flag fluttered from cars and shop windows, while pro-autonomy graffiti and anti-Morales slogans fought for space on walls. *

-Associated Press