NASA launches moon probes

CAPE CANAVERAL — NASA launched its first moon shot in a decade Thursday, sending up a pair of unmanned science probes that will help determine where astronauts could land and set up camp in years to come.

The liftoff occurred just one month and two days shy of the 40th anniversary of the first lunar footprints. The mission is a first step in NASA’s effort to return humans to the moon by 2020.

Scientists cheered as the Atlas V rocket carrying the two spacecraft blasted off in late afternoon, ducking through clouds and providing an exhilarating start to the $583 million mission.

Three die in house explosion in Corpus Christi

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Three people are dead in a house explosion in southeast Texas.

Police and fire officials are investigating the blast that blew part of the roof off the home Thursday morning in the Flour Bluff area of Corpus Christi.

Searchers found the bodies of two adults and a teenager in the rubble. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports two other people who had access to the home have been accounted for.

Police believe the explosion was accidental.

Drug fugitive dubbed Ghost arrested in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Federal immigration officials say they’ve arrested a Mexican fugitive who is nicknamed the Ghost and is accused of trafficking high-potency heroin throughout the Midwest.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Khaalid Walls says Jose “Carlos” Hernandez Salazar was taken into custody Tuesday in central Ohio. He says Salazar was among the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Top 10 most wanted fugitives.

Authorities say Salazar is an illegal immigrant wanted in connection with several overdose deaths. He recently was featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted.”

93 bridge victims sue two companies

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The largest group of victims from the bridge collapse in Minneapolis two years ago is suing two companies that worked on the structure, saying the rush-hour disaster was “entirely avoidable.”

Lawyers for 93 survivors and families of victims filed lawsuits Thursday against URS Corp., a consultant that analyzed the bridge, and Progressive Contractors Inc., whose crews were resurfacing the bridge.

The lawsuits accuse both companies of negligence.

The Aug. 1, 2007, collapse of one of the state’s busiest bridges during the evening rush hour killed 13 people and injured 145.

Five prison workers fired after inmates escape

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Arkansas Department of Correction has fired five employees who were working when two convicted murderers escaped a state prison after donning guard uniforms made in the facility.

The fired workers included a captain, a sergeant and three correctional officers, department spokeswoman Dina Tyler said Thursday.

Officials don’t believe the workers intentionally helped inmates Calvin Adams and Jeffrey Grinder escape the Cummins Unit last month, she said, but an investigation continues.

Flight student indicted in theft of airplane

ST. LOUIS — A federal grand jury has indicted a man accused of stealing a plane in Canada and flying over three states before landing along a dark southern Missouri highway.

Adam Dylan Leon was indicted Thursday on federal charges of interstate transportation of a stolen aircraft, importation of a stolen aircraft, and illegal entry.

Acting U.S. Attorney Michael Reap said Leon is accused of flying a stolen Cessna 172 aircraft into the United States on April 6 from an airport in Ontario, Canada.

Texas woman dies in pool year after children did

COPPELL, Texas — A medical examiner’s office in Texas has determined that a woman found dead at the same swimming pool where her two children drowned less than a year ago committed suicide.

Coppell police say Matthew Stocco pulled his wife, 35-year-old Van Ha Stocco, from the pool at their home Wednesday. The medical examiner’s office said Thursday that she drowned.

— Herald wire services