NATIONAL BRIEFS

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NATION: Budget cuts halt water gauges

More than 100 crucial gauges that warn of imminent flooding or lack of needed water will be shut down starting next month as part of the federal government's automatic budget cuts. Some are in the nine states threatened with spring flooding, U.S. Geological Survey officials said. In rivers where flooding is imminent, such as near Fargo, N.D., officials are scrambling to keep needed monitors working and make the cuts elsewhere. Jerad Bales, the agency's chief scientist for water, said at least 120 gauges, and as many as 375 in a worst-case scenario, will be shut down because of the mandatory sequestration cuts. Meanwhile, as spring rains soaked the central United States and helped conquer the drought, a new problem has sprouted: The fields have turned to mud. The weekly drought monitor report, released Thursday by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb., showed the heavy rains that caused some flooding in the last week brought drought relief to the upper Midwest, the western Corn Belt and central portions of the Plains. For farmers, it's too wet to plant in corn country and freezing temperatures and lingering snow have ruined the winter wheat crop.


RHODE ISLAND: Student's body found in water

A body pulled from waters off a Providence park was that of a Brown University student missing since last month, the state medical examiner's office said Thursday. Sunil Tripathi, 22, was identified through a forensic dental exam, but a cause of death had not been determined. The mystery of his disappearance had became doubly painful for his family, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., when amateur online sleuths wrongly identified him as a possible suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. The body was found Tuesday by the Brown crew team off India Point Park and was brought to shore by its coach, Providence Police said.

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ALABAMA: Barge explosion injures three

A huge blaze that erupted after two fuel barges exploded in the Mobile River east of downtown Mobile, leaving three people with critical burns, was put out yesterday. A crew cleaning the barges is believed to have caused a spark that ignited fuel, the Coast Guard said.

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