In Brief | Nation & World 10-2-13


China hunts for 58 missing in storm

HANOI, Vietnam — Chinese airplanes and boats scoured parts of the South China Sea Tuesday looking for nearly 60 people missing after a tropical storm sank three fishing boats.

In central Vietnam, people repaired homes and dragged away trees uprooted when Wutip slammed into the coastline late Monday. Two men were killed when a radio station antenna tower fell on them, Vietnam’s disaster agency said. Another man was killed when a wall collapsed. Close to 100,000 homes were damaged.

Chinese authorities said Wutip, which means butterfly in Cantonese, sank three Chinese fishing vessels Sunday in the South China Sea.

On Monday, 14 people were rescued, leaving 58 believed to be missing, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. It said 22 boats and four airplanes were combing the area for survivors.

Web traffic, glitches slow Obamacare exchanges launch

CHICAGO — Americans got their first chance Tuesday to shop for health insurance using the online marketplaces that are at the heart of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, but government websites designed to sell the policies struggled to handle the traffic, with many frustrated users reporting trouble setting up accounts.

State and federal agencies were working to fix the sites, which represent the biggest expansion in coverage in nearly 50 years. There should be time to make improvements. The open-enrollment period lasts for six months.

Administration officials said they are pleased with the strong consumer interest, but on a day of glitches they refused to say how many people actually succeeded in signing up for coverage. They gave inconsistent answers on whether a common problem had been cleared up.

By Tuesday afternoon, at least 2.8 million people had visited the healthcare.gov website, said Medicare administrator Marilyn Tavenner, whose office is overseeing the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. The website had seven times the number of simultaneous users ever recorded on the medicare.gov site.

BP executive defends spill response tactics

NEW ORLEANS — A BP executive who led the company’s efforts to halt its massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico said his decisions were guided by the principle they shouldn’t do anything that could make the crisis worse.

The executive, James Dupree, testified Tuesday at a trial over the deadly disaster that his teams worked simultaneously on several strategies for killing the well that blew out in April 2010.

Dupree said the company scrapped plans to employ a capping strategy in mid-May because the equipment wasn’t ready. Dupree also said he was concerned it could jeopardize other efforts to seal the well.

BP’s trial adversaries have argued the company could have stopped the spill much earlier than July 15 if it had used that capping strategy.

Nearly 1,000 Iraqis killed in September

BAGHDAD — Sectarian bloodshed has surged to levels not seen in Iraq since 2008. More than 5,000 people have been killed since April, when a deadly government raid on a Sunni protest camp unleashed a new round of violence that showed al-Qaida in Iraq is still strong despite years of U.S.-Iraqi offensives against the terror group.

At least 979 people — 887 civilians and 92 soldiers and national policemen — were killed in September, a 22 percent increase from the previous month, the U.N. mission in Iraq said Tuesday. Baghdad was hit hardest, with 418 violent deaths. The U.N. also reported that 2,133 people were wounded nationwide in the relentless car bombings, suicide attacks and shootings.

The spike reversed a brief decline to 804 in August.

By wire sources