Sounds, Sights of Cicadas Fading

They came, they sang, and now they appear to be going. According to the testimony of many pairs of eyes and ears, the periodical cicadas of Brood X that have amazed, amused and annoyed the Washington area for the past few weeks have largely finished their work here.

"The excitement is ending south of the Mason-Dixon line," Cicada Mania Web site reported Sunday. "The large guys are gone from my home," said a message posted on the site yesterday by someone in Alexandria. "Over the past week the din has all but disappeared," said another message, posted yesterday from McLean.

The departure, said cicada researcher John Zyla, is following historical patterns, which call for the insects to vanish between the 15th and 20th of June. "They are becoming quieter."

Woman Falls Beneath Amtrak Train

A woman fell off a platform and under an Amtrak train at New Carrollton Station yesterday and suffered minor injuries, authorities said.

Crews from the Prince George's County Fire/EMS Department rescued the woman. Department spokesman Chauncey Bowers said the train apparently had stopped at the station before the woman fell. No foul play is suspected.

Amtrak spokesman Dan Stessel said the accident happened just after 2 p.m. as train No. 95 from Boston to Newport News, Va., made its regularly scheduled stop in New Carrollton.

The train had made several earlier stops. It left New Carrollton about 2:45 p.m., nearly an hour late.

Car Left on Tracks Delays Train Traffic

Amtrak and MARC trains were delayed for almost two hours yesterday after someone abandoned a car on the tracks in Washington.

Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham said as many as 10 Amtrak trains were delayed, some by as much as 90 minutes, after someone drove down an embankment north of New York Avenue. Graham said the incident happened shortly after 4:30 p.m., and the driver fled.

Service on MARC's Penn Line was interrupted while workers removed the car from the tracks. The scene was cleared about 6:20 p.m.


Rappahannock Drowning Victim Identified

A man who drowned Sunday in the Rappahannock River in Stafford County was identified yesterday as Elgin Loamy Escobar, 20, of Manassas.

Stafford County sheriff's Maj. David Decatur said Escobar tried to swim across the river about 2:45 p.m., but something pulled him under at the halfway point. Rescuers found his body about 4:10 p.m.

Fewer Farms, but Average Acreage Up

Census figures for 2002 show that the number of Virginia farms is declining, but the average acreage for individual farms is on the rise.

Virginia has 47,606 operating farms and 8.6 million acres of working farmland, the Census shows. That's down from 49,366 farms using 8.7 million acres two years ago. The average size of farms is 181 acres, up from 177.


Motorcyclist Dies in Pr. George's Collision

A 20-year-old Calvert County man was killed in Clinton last night when his motorcycle collided with a Ford Explorer while trying to make a left turn, Prince George's County police said.

The man was traveling south in the 8900 block of Dangerfield Road at high speed when he struck the Explorer just before 7 p.m., said Cpl. Joe Merkel, a Prince George's County police spokesman.

The motorcycle rider, whose name was not immediately released, was pronounced dead at Southern Maryland Hospital Center, Merkel said. The driver of the Explorer was not injured.


D.C. Leaders Hope to Fund Youth Jobs

Political and business leaders launched a push yesterday to find summer jobs for D.C. youths, setting an ambitious goal of guaranteeing a month's employment for any young person willing to work.

"These jobs aren't just make-work jobs; they can fit into an overall program of upward mobility, opportunity and advancement," said Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D).

The D.C. Youth Champions campaign is designed to get employers to sponsor 14- to 21-year-olds for one month's employment beginning July 13 at a cost of $1,000. The goal is to create positions that pay $6.15 to $12 an hour.

The city placed 5,494 young people in jobs last year. Williams said he is hoping to nearly double that number this year.

The D.C. government has committed $5 million to the program. The city's Department of Employment Services has registered more than 9,200 youths and expects final registration to top 10,000.

The city once was able to fill up to 20,000 summer jobs, but federal money for large-scale programs is no longer available, officials said.

Spring Valley to Test Emergency Siren

A siren will be tested tomorrow at noon in the Spring Valley neighborhood by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The siren will serve as emergency notification during upcoming work at Lot 18 on the southeastern edge of American University's campus and adjacent to homes on Rockwood Parkway. The work at Lot 18 is part of the corps' investigation and cleanup of buried ordnance, explosive waste and hazardous substances that might exist as a result of past military activities in Spring Valley.

The siren would sound in the unlikely event that a chemical release occurred during the planned dig at Lot 18 and escaped the engineering controls, officials said. Residents and university staff who would potentially be affected have been notified of proper procedures and taught shelter-in-place techniques. Others need not take action unless directed to do so by fire or police officials.

Human Services Now at N.Y. Avenue NE

The D.C. Department of Human Services has moved its headquarters to 64 New York Ave. NE on the sixth floor. The new main phone number is 202-671-4200. The phone numbers for the department's service centers remain the same.

The headquarters had been at 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, on the grounds of St. Elizabeths Hospital.

"We really take exception with the word 'safe,' when you are advising people to eat -- in some cases -- one meal a month. We would not call that 'safe.' "

-- Kim Coble, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

in Maryland, responding to state officials who said rockfish caught

in the bay are safe to eat but warned that consumers should

limit their consumption. -- Page B7

Compiled from reports by staff writers Martin Weil, Allan Lengel, Lori Montgomery, Dakarai I. Aarons and David Nakamura and the Associated Press.