Weather blamed for 5 deaths

INDIANAPOLIS - Wicked weekend storms with tornadoes and heavy rain pounded the Midwest, where at least three people drowned.

Rescuers in boats continued to pluck people from rising waters in Indiana, a day after more than 10 inches of rain deluged much of the state. At least one person drowned, and another person was missing after falling off an airboat in a flooded area, state police said.

In Michigan, two delivery workers for the Grand Rapids Press drowned early yesterday when their car became submerged in a creek that washed out a road about 4 a.m. near Lake Michigan in Saugatuck Township, the newspaper said.

A woman was killed when a small trailer blew onto her late yesterday afternoon west of Lansing, Sheriff Mike Raines told the Lansing State Journal.

_ And lightning struck a pavilion at a state park in Connecticut, killing one person and injuring four, state environmental spokesman Dennis Schain said.

Puerto Rican pride on parade

NEW YORK - Fifth Avenue was a sea of red, white and blue flags yesterday as thousands of Puerto Ricans celebrated their ethnic pride.

"I was born and raised in New York," said Rita Rivera, who watched the Puerto Rican Day Parade from behind police barricades. "This is the closest we get to so many Puerto Ricans together in one spot."

Rep. Nydia Velazquez, the first Puerto Rican woman elected to Congress, said the parade demonstrates "the growing influence of Puerto Ricans in the city and in the nation."

The parade went up Fifth Avenue from 44th to 86th street. There were marching bands, beauty queens in foot-high tiaras and dancers in ruffled skirts.

A pair of salsa dancers maneuvered on stilts, while a Carnival performer in a horned vejigante mask and clownlike costume tried to beat the 90-plus heat by pouring water on herself.

Will oil prices drop now?

JERUSALEM - The Israeli government distanced itself yesterday from a Cabinet minister's suggestion that Israel will be forced to attack Iran.

A spokeswoman for Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz said he had not been expressing government policy.

Mofaz set off an international uproar over the weekend by saying in a published interview that Israel will have "no choice" but to attack Iran if it doesn't halt its nuclear program. Mofaz has been Israel's representative in a strategic dialogue on Iran with U.S. officials.

On Friday, oil prices made their biggest single-day jump ever, and traders cited Mofaz's comment - which hinted at the possibility of a disruption of global oil supplies - as one reason for the spike.

Bombs kill 13 in Algeria

ALGIERS, Algeria - Two bombs exploded yesterday at a train station in Algeria, killing 13 people and wounding several others, a security official said.

Both bombs at the station in Beni Amrane, about 60 miles east of the North African nation's capital, were apparently triggered by remote control, the official said.

The first bomb killed at least two people, including a French citizen working on a project to repair the station's rails. He was leaving the site in a car, the security official said. His Algerian driver was also killed.

A second bomb minutes later was apparently timed to explode as security forces and rescue workers arrived at the scene.

Governor's mansion torched?

AUSTIN, Texas - Arson is suspected in the fire that struck the historic Texas Governor's Mansion early yesterday, causing damage that state officials described as "bordering on catastrophic," the state fire marshal said.

No one was inside the 152-year-old Greek Revival-style mansion at the time, said Robert Black, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry. The mansion had been undergoing a $10 million renovation, and Perry and his wife, Anita, had moved out last fall.

"We have some evidence that indicates that we do have an intentionally set fire," said state Fire Marshal Paul Maldonado. "So we believe that we may be looking at a criminal act here."

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was sending in a team to help investigate, Maldonado said.

Divers survive sharks, lizard

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Scuba divers swept away in strong currents survived 12 hours in shark-infested waters before scrambling onto a remote Indonesian island where they faced yet another threat: a Komodo dragon.

The divers - three from Britain and one each from France and Sweden - came face-to-face with the giant, carnivorous lizard on Rinca's palm-fringed beach, and fought it off by pelting it with rocks and pieces of wood, Pariman, a port official said yesterday.

"Luckily, they were able to chase it away," said Pariman, who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name. The beasts have sharp, serrated teeth and often come out when they smell something new, including humans - whom they've been known to kill, Pariman said.

The divers encountered treacherous currents after plunging from their wooden boat off Tatawa island on Thursday afternoon. They drifted 20 miles from their dive site before swimming to Rinca, their last chance to avoid being swept into the open ocean.

The divers ran into the Komodo dragon on Friday afternoon. The next day, rescuers aboard one of 30 boats searching the waters spotted them waving frantically on the shore and took them to Flores island for medical treatment.

"We're safe, but absolutely exhausted and dehydrated," Charlotte Allin, a 25-year-old British diver, was quoted by the Sunday Times of London as telling her parents from the hospital where the group was taken.

Komodo dragons, which can grow up to 10 feet long and weigh as much as 365 pounds, are only found in the wild on Rinca and Komodo island. There are believed to be about 4,000 left in the world. *

-Associated Press