Divers find remains at cruise liner site

Divers on Thursday recovered what they believe could be the remains of the last two missing Costa Concordia victims from the waters where the cruise liner sank last year off the Italian island of Giglio.

The huge ship was carrying more than 4,000 vacationers and crew members when it capsized after striking rocks on Jan. 13, 2012, killing 32 people, including two whose bodies were not recovered.

The head of the civil protection agency, Franco Gabrielli, said the remains discovered Thursday were “absolutely consistent” with the two missing people — an Indian man and an Italian woman. However, their identities could be confirmed only after DNA testing, he said.

After lying on its side in shallow water ever since capsizing, the Costa Concordia was hauled upright last week in a complicated 19-hour salvage operation.

Recovering the human remains after 20 months under the weight of the 114,500-ton vessel was “almost a miracle,” Gabrielli said. A spokeswoman for the civil protection agency said all that was left of the bodies was bone fragments.

The ship is due to be towed away from the Mediterranean island, probably by spring, and eventually broken up into scrap.

— Reuters

U.S. service member killed, officials say

A U.S. service member was killed Thursday in Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia province when a man in an Afghan National Army uniform opened fire at a joint military training base, provincial officials said.

The assailant was killed in return fire by NATO forces, said Rohullah Samoon, a spokesman for Paktia’s governor. “It’s too early to say whether the Afghan soldier was a Taliban infiltrator,” he said, adding that an investigation by Afghan and coalition forces was underway into the incident in Gerda Serai district.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a Twitter message that his group was responsible for the attack on U.S. soldiers. NATO confirmed the death but didn’t immediately provide the victim’s nationality, in keeping with its policy.

This was the second insider attack in Paktia in less than a week. Three U.S. troops died in a similar incident Saturday.

— Los Angeles Times

Carter calls for end to Burma sectarian violence: Former president Jimmy Carter and two other former world leaders who are part of a group known as “The Elders” wrapped up a visit to Burma on Thursday with calls to address Buddhist-led violence against minority Muslims and end impunity for the perpetrators. The other “Elders” are former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari and former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. Newfound freedoms of expression have exposed deep-seated hatred in the predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million, initially against ethnic minority Muslims known as Rohingyas, and then against Muslims in general, leading to some of the worst sectarian violence Burma has seen in decades.

Honduran gang assets included zoo, luxury hotels: Bank accounts and assets seized last week from a gang of suspected Honduran drug traffickers wanted by the U.S. government are worth $800 million, a police official said Thursday. Authorities said the seizures against Los Cachiros included hotels, houses, gas stations and the biggest zoo in Honduras that housed lions, tigers, giraffes and hippos. The gang is accused by the U.S. Treasury of trafficking narcotics for groups including the Sinaloa cartel, one of the most powerful drug-running outfits in Mexico.

Climber finds jewels, possibly from plane crash: Police say a French mountain climber stumbled upon a case of dozens of cut jewels, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars — believed to be debris from one of two Air India crashes decades ago. Police commander Sylvain Merly said the Mont Blanc climber, who asked to remain anonymous, turned in the box marked “Made in India” on Sept. 9. Authorities hope to find someone linked to its owner, who is presumed to have been a passenger on one of the two jets that crashed in 1950 or 1966.

Dozens of casualties in Iraq blasts: Bombings struck outdoor markets in and near Baghdad on Thursday, killing at least 23 people and injuring dozens, the latest in a deadly wave that has hit Iraq in recent months, officials said. Three bombs went off simultaneously in the Shiite village of Sabaa al-Bour, about 20 miles north of the capital.

— From news services