THE REGION

Rainfall Helps Offset Drought Last month's rain helped reduce the effects of the drought in the Washington region, according to the most recent National Weather Service figures.

As of yesterday, rainfall totals for the period since Sept. 1 were greater than normal at both Baltimore and Dulles International Airport. The figure for Baltimore, 9.18 inches, was 1.84 inches above normal. The figure for Dulles was 7.88 inches, which was 0.47 inches above normal.

At Reagan National Airport, the figure was 7.10 inches, 0.11 inches below normal.

THE DISTRICT

Agency Checking Asbestos About 2,300 Department of the Interior employees will find out tonight whether they'll return to work tomorrow at the agency's headquarters.

Workers were sent home early after high levels of cancer-causing asbestos were detected in the 65-year-old building at 18th and C streets NW. Employees can call 202-208-6606 to find out whether the office will be open.

One Killed in Crash near Mall A woman died early yesterday in a two-vehicle crash near the Lincoln Memorial.

U.S. Park Police said the accident occurred just after midnight.

Police believe a Dodge Shadow tried to turn left onto 23rd Street from Independence Avenue SW and collided with a sport-utility vehicle. A female passenger in one of the vehicles was killed. Police have not released her name pending notification of her family. Police are investigating the crash.

VIRGINIA

Fairfax Mother Sentenced A Fairfax County mother who authorities said beat her three children has been sentenced to 27 months in prison.

The children of Sohaila Ali, 40, ranging in age from 22 months to 5 years at the time of the February 2001 attack, recovered from their injuries, which included fractured skulls and deep stab or slash wounds. Police found a rolling pin and meat cleaver covered with blood in Ali's apartment.

Freed Activist Thanks Students A Mexican human rights activist who was freed from prison under international pressure stopped by a Fredericksburg high school last week to thank hundreds of students who wrote in support of his release.

Brig. Gen. Jose Francisco Gallardo, who has fought military abuses against civilians and soldiers in his country, thanked James Monroe High School students who wrote letters, signed petitions and protested last year at the Mexican Embassy in Washington that Gallardo had been jailed on trumped-up charges. Mexican President Vicente Fox freed the general Feb. 7 after he had served eight of 28 years.

Sailor Convicted in Sex Assault A Circuit Court jury in Norfolk has recommended that a New Jersey man serve 116 years in prison for sexually assaulting an 18-year-old Virginia woman and videotaping the attack.

Phillip T. Butler, 21, of Willingboro, N.J., was one of three sailors charged and convicted in the May 20 attack in Norfolk.

Butler was found guilty of rape, attempted forcible sodomy, forcible sodomy and abduction.

According to testimony, Butler drove the woman to his apartment, where she drank two mixed drinks and blacked out. When she awoke, Butler and two other men were sexually assaulting her and taping the incident.

MARYLAND

U.S. Diplomat Remembered Laurence M. Foley, 60, the U.S. aid worker killed Monday in a possible terrorist attack in Jordan, was remembered yesterday as a big, boisterous man with humor and charm.

"First, he hit you with his humor," said his son, Michael, at a Silver Spring memorial service. "Then, when you weren't looking, he'd smack you with his integrity."

Foley was shot at close range in front of his home in Amman. The gunman escaped. No arrests have been made, but Islamic extremists are suspected.

Man Burned by Furnace A man from the Aspen Hill/Rockville area of Montgomery County was burned seriously yesterday after apparently relighting his furnace after repairing it, Montgomery County fire and rescue officials said.

The man was found about 2 p.m. in a single-family house in the 4300 block of Randolph Road, fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said. The man was burned on the upper torso and may also have suffered respiratory injuries, Piringer said.

He was flown by helicopter to Washington Hospital Center, Piringer said.

"It's like organizing six weddings. This is an army."

-- Vivek Chopra, Democratic campaign worker, as he prepared to send out 1,800 volunteers to knock on doors in Montgomery County to urge voters to the polls. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Stephen C. Fehr, Martin Weil and Clarence Williams and the Associated Press.