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Briefs (right)

Massive Explosion Destroys
Gas Station in West Virginia

By Ian Urbina

An explosion at a gas station near a West Virginia ski resort on Tuesday killed four people and injured five others, the authorities said.

The blast occurred just before 11 a.m. at the Flat Top Little General Store on Route 19 in Ghent, shattering windows about a mile away and toppling a fire truck that responded to the scene after a 911 call about a propane gas leak, fire officials said.

A local volunteer firefighter, a county building inspector and an emergency medical technician, all investigating the leak, were among the dead, whose names were not released, the police said.

Investigators said they believed the blast was caused by gas that seeped into the store from a propane tank and ignited.

“The best way to explain that for you is to imagine an explosion in your home and when you walk back up to your home the only thing that’s left is toothpicks,” said Sterling Lewis, a state fire marshal, during a news conference in Ghent as he described the gnarled wreckage at the scene.

World Scientists Near
Consensus on Warming

By James Kanter and Andrew C. Revkin

Scientists from across the world gathered Monday to hammer out the final details of an authoritative report on climate change that is expected to project centuries of rising temperatures and sea levels unless there are curbs in emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere.

Scientists involved in writing or reviewing the report say it is nearly certain to conclude that there is at least a 90 percent chance that human-caused emissions are the main factor in warming since 1950. The report is the fourth since 1990 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is overseen by the United Nations.

The report, several of the authors said, will describe a growing body of evidence that warming is likely to cause a profound transformation of the planet. Three large sections of the report will be forthcoming during the year. The first will be a summary for policymakers and information on basic climate science, which is expected to be issued on Friday. Among the findings in recent drafts:

The Arctic Ocean could largely be devoid of sea ice during summer later in the century.

Europe’s Mediterranean shores could become barely habitable in summers, while the Alps could shift from snowy winter destinations to summer havens from the heat.

Growing seasons in temperate regions will expand, while droughts are likely to ravage further the semiarid regions of Africa and southern Asia.