SAUDI ARABIA

Winds blamed in fatal crane collapse

High winds were to blame for the toppling of a massive crane that smashed into Mecca's Grand Mosque and killed at least 107 people before the start of the annual hajj pilgrimage, the head of Saudi Arabia's civil defense directorate said yesterday. The disaster during a violent thunderstorm that roared through Islam's holiest city late Friday afternoon was the deadliest incident in years surrounding the hajj, which gets underway in full later this month. The director general of civil defense, Suleiman bin Abdullah al-Amro, told satellite broadcaster Al-Arabiya that the unusually powerful winds also tore down trees and signs as a storm whipped through the area.

SPAIN

Official: Remains likely U.S. woman's

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A body found on a rural property in northwest Spain is most likely that of an American woman who went missing while walking along a pilgrimage route, Spanish officials said yesterday. Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz said evidence pointed to the remains being those of Denise Thiem. He said there were "well-founded suspicions" that the 39-year-old prime suspect arrested over her disappearance was responsible for her death. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy wrote to U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona to inform him of developments. A ministry spokesman had earlier said Miguel Angel Munoz had led investigators to his small farm near the Camino de Santiago after being arrested Friday in Asturias. Thiem, 41, of Arizona, was last seen April 5 walking along the route at the town of Astorga, 6 miles east of Santa Catalina de Somoza, the town closest to Munoz's farm, the ministry said.

COLOMBIA

2 killed, 1 injured in plane crash

Actor Tom Cruise flew in a helicopter across the Colombian Andes just 10 minutes before a small plane on the same dangerous flight path crashed into a jungled mountain, killing two crew members from his upcoming movie, civil aviation authorities said. An official with the aviation agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the cause of Friday's crash, which also seriously injured a third person, is still under investigation. Those killed were veteran Hollywood pilot Alan Purwin and Venezuelan Carlos Berl, while another American, Jimmy Lee Garland, survived. All were experienced pilots, and it's unclear who was commanding the plane, the official said.