New York

Building collapses after explosion

A powerful explosion in the East Village caused one building to collapse and ignited a large fire in a neighboring building leaving at least a dozen people injured, at least three critically. Francis X. Gribbon, chief spokesman for the New York Fire Department, said the preliminary indication was that some kind of gas explosion preceded the inferno. "It was probably a gas thing, it looks like," he said. "But that's not confirmed." About 250 firefighters responded from about 50 Fire Department units, officials said.

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Obama will host pope at White House

The White House confirmed that Barack Obama will host Pope Francis on Sept. 23, when they will discuss topics including the environment, religious freedom and immigration. It was the latest detail announced about Francis' fall trip — his first to the United States — which will include a speech to Congress on Sept. 24 and the United Nations on Sept. 25. His visit is timed for a major gathering of Catholic leaders in Philadelphia at the end of that week.

Indiana

Emergency declared amid HIV outbreak

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence overrode state law and his own anti-drug policies to authorize a short-term needle-exchange program designed to help contain HIV infections in a rural county where more than six dozen cases have been reported, all of them tied to intravenous drug use. Pence issued an executive order declaring a public health emergency in Scott County, an economically depressed area about 30 miles north of Louisville, Ky., that has seen 79 new infections since December. The county typically sees about five HIV cases each year, officials said. The order directs the state health department to set up a command center to coordinate HIV and substance-abuse treatment. "This is all hands on deck. This is a very serious situation," Pence said.

Switzerland

Iran nuclear talks reach critical phase

Nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran entered a critical phase with Secretary of State John Kerry meeting his Iranian counterpart less than a week away from a deadline to secure the outline of a deal. Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and their teams huddled in the Swiss resort town of Lausanne on Lake Geneva trying to overcome still significant gaps after nearly two years of negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. The top diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia are expected to join the talks if the U.S. and Iran are close to an agreement. U.S. officials say the March 31 deadline is achievable but remains uncertain.

South Korea

Nation to join Chinese-led bank

South Korea became the latest U.S. ally to announce its intention of joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank despite Washington's qualms about the Chinese-led regional development bank. The South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance said Asia needed a new regional source of development money because the existing multilateral lenders, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, could not meet the demand for infrastructure investment funds in the region. The United States has expressed misgivings about the proposed regional lender, which it sees as a threat to the Washington-led World Bank. U.S. officials have also worried that the new bank would lack governance and transparency.

news services