Chinese fear new quake

CHENGDU, China - A government warning of a major aftershock sent thousands of panicked survivors running into the darkened streets last night following an unprecedented display of mourning for more than 34,000 people killed in a powerful earthquake one week ago.

In shattered Sichuan province, quake-weary residents carried pillows, blankets and chairs from homes into the open or slept in cars after a statement from the National Seismology Bureau was read on television warning that there was a "rather great" chance of an aftershock measuring magnitude 6 to 7. Such jolts could cause major damage.

People in the provincial capital of Chengdu got in their cars and drove east - toward plains and away from the quake zone to the northwest. At intersections outside the city, clusters of people slept on bedrolls. Cars were parked along a service road to a highway, their drivers sleeping on the sidewalk.

The alarm compounded uneasiness in the region, which has been rumbled by dozens of aftershocks since the May 12 quake, including one last night measured at magnitude 5.2 by the U.S. Geological Survey. No damage or injuries were reported.

14 hurt in hotel blast

SAN DIEGO - An apparently accidental explosion rocked a Hilton hotel under construction yesterday, injuring 14 workers, five of them critically, authorities said.

Three of the five were in a hospital burn unit, and eight other victims had serious-to-minor injuries, fire department spokesman Maurice Luque said.

Some workers were burned and others were injured by flying debris, Luque said. The building did not burn after the explosion, which Luque said appeared to be accidental.

UCSD Medical Center was treating 10 injured, said Dr. Irving Jacoby, attending emergency-room physician. Three were in the burn unit, one with burns over 35 percent of his body.

Docs still evaluating Kennedy

WASHINGTON - Sen. Edward M. Kennedy is not expected back at work in the Senate this week, his office said yesterday, as doctors searched for the cause of a weekend seizure that sent the 76-year-old lawmaker to the hospital.

There was no word on how long Kennedy would remain hospitalized. But after 48 hours, physicians not involved in his care debated whether the length of his stay was an indication of something more serious or simply an outgrowth of caution in dealing with a prominent patient.

Kennedy's office confirmed his likely absence from work after it was disclosed by several officials.

Drivers not belting up

WASHINGTON - More than two-thirds of young drivers and passengers killed in nighttime car crashes aren't wearing seat belts - deadly proof of what can happen when young people don't heed parents' pleas and authorities' threats to "click it."

Though seat-belt use actually is rising slightly nationwide, fatality figures published yesterday offered a somber contrast as law enforcement launched its annual pre-Memorial Day drive to persuade Americans to buckle up.

Total belt use rose to 82 percent last year - from 81 percent in 2006 - the government said.

Twelve states had rates of 90 percent or better, led by Hawaii and Washington. Only three were below 70 percent: Arkansas, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

But the news was hardly all encouraging.

Sixty-eight percent of drivers and passengers between the ages of 16 and 20 who were killed in car crashes at night in 2006 were unbuckled, said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. During daytime, 57 percent of the young motorists and passengers who were killed were not wearing seat belts.

Ex-cop held in killing

CRANSTON, R.I. - A firefighter is dead and a former police officer has been arrested in a shooting in Rhode Island, apparently stemming from a neighborhood dispute.

Cranston Fire Chief James Gumbley said Lt. James Pagano was killed Sunday. He was a well-liked and well-respected firefighter since 1991.

Former Providence police Officer Nicholas Gianquitti was arrested and ordered held without bail on a murder charge. The Cranston police chief, Stephen McGrath, said the shooting occurred at Gianquitti's home on a quiet, dead-end street with children present.

Gianquitti was on the force in Providence in 1992 and 1993 before he injured his knee and went on disability.

Heir Huntington Hartford dies

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The daughter of Huntington Hartford says the A&P grocery heir has died in the Bahamas at the age of 97.

Juliet Hartford says her father died yesterday morning at his home in the exclusive Nassau enclave of Lyford Cay, where he had lived since 2004.

Huntington Hartford, a darling of the tabloids in his youth, burned through most of a $100 million fortune in failed business and cultural endeavors. *

-Associated Press