VERSAILLES, France -- In a surprise ruling in one of the most high-profile disasters in aviation history, a French appeals court Thursday overturned manslaughter convictions against Continental Airlines and a mechanic for the 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde that killed 113 people.
The crash hastened the end for the already-faltering supersonic Concorde, synonymous with high-tech luxury but a commercial failure. The program, jointly operated by Air France and British Airways, was taken out of service in 2003.
In the accident, which occurred on July 25, 2000, the jet crashed into a hotel near Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport soon after taking off, killing all 109 people aboard and four on the ground.
A mistake made weeks earlier by a Continental mechanic in Houston played a crucial role in the crash, the court found. According to the original ruling, a mechanic fitted the wrong metal strip on a DC-10. The piece fell off on the runway in Paris, puncturing the Concorde's tire. The burst tire sent bits of rubber flying, puncturing the fuel tanks, which started the fire that brought down the plane.
Judge Michele Luga overturned the 2010 manslaughter conviction of Continental and the mechanic, saying their mistakes didn't make them criminally responsible for the deaths.
BAGHDAD -- As workers gathered for breakfast Thursday at a restaurant in Hilla, a Shiite-dominated city south of the capital, an explosives-laden car parked outside blew up, sending shrapnel ripping through the crowd. As an ambulance raced to the scene, another car was in pursuit, driven by a suicide bomber -- who detonated his payload just as the first responders gathered.
The bombings in Hilla, in which security and hospital officials said 32 people were killed and 138 were wounded, were the worst in a day of insurgent attacks across Iraq. Other attacks in Karbala, a Shiite holy city in the south, Fallujah, Mosul and Baghdad left 16 people dead and about 70 wounded.
MONYWA, Myanmar -- Security forces used water cannons, tear gas and smoke bombs Thursday to clear protesters from a copper mine in northwestern Myanmar, wounding villagers and Buddhist monks in the biggest use of force against demonstrators since the reformist government of President Thein Sein took office last year.
Monks and other protesters had serious burns after the crackdown. Protesters who oppose the mine's impact on villagers and the environment had occupied the area for 11 days.
KABUL, Afghanistan -- A minivan packed with civilians struck a roadside bomb in the southern province of Oruzgan Thursday morning, killing 10 people and wounding eight others.
Most of the victims were women and children who were on their way to celebrate a family member's return from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. The explosion was blamed on Taliban insurgents.
South Korea canceled plans to launch a civilian space rocket Thursday because of a technical problem. ... Mexican environmental activist Juventina Villa Mojica was killed along with her 10-year-old son Wednesday when about 30 gunmen intercepted her police convoy in southern Guerrero state. A 7-year-old daughter survived. ... A suicide bomber Thursday attacked Pakistani militant commander Maulvi Nazir in Wana in the country's northwest, wounding him and killing seven people.