Michigan Blast Kills 6,

Including Virginia Youths

CALEDONIA TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- An explosion that was felt three miles away leveled a farmhouse, killing six young people and critically injuring three others, authorities said Sunday.

"As bad as it was out there, I'm not sure how anyone survived," Shiawassee County Sheriff Jon Wilson told WLNS-TV of Lansing. "It was a surprise to see people still alive."

The cause of the blast had not been determined, said Michigan State Police Detective Sgt. Kathy Taylor, the lead fire investigator.

Those killed were ages 2 to 19, Taylor said. The injured, who were taken to a hospital in Flint in critical condition, were ages 7 to 18.

Those killed included the homeowner's nieces and nephews from Virginia, Taylor said. Two of their siblings and an 18-year-old family friend were hospitalized. The names and home towns of the victims were not released.

Caledonia Township is located between Lansing and Flint and is about 90 miles northwest of Detroit.

Hurricane Maria Gains

Strength in Atlantic

MIAMI -- The season's fifth hurricane intensified over warm water far out in the open Atlantic.

At 5 p.m., Hurricane Maria had maximum sustained winds of 85 mph and was centered 530 miles east-southeast of Bermuda. It was moving north-northwest at 14 mph and was expected to turn toward the north.

"On this track, Maria should remain well to the east of Bermuda and only pose a threat to shipping interests," said Stacy Stewart, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center.

Maria is the 13th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, one of the busiest on record. Historically, only about four or five named storms form by this time of year, according to the hurricane center.

-- From News Services