L.A. Now California: This just in
Santa Monica couple visiting Nepal reported missing after deadly earthquake

A Santa Monica couple visiting Nepal hasn't been heard from since the massive magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Saturday.

Friends of A. Michelle Page, 58, and Daniel Adams, 65, said they have not connected with the pair since they left for Nepal on Tuesday. They were planning to stay in the capital of Katmandu, at a hotel close to the Boudhanath stupa monument, said longtime friend Susan Klos. The jolt from the earthquake toppled Boudhanath, the world's largest Buddhist stupa.

"I've seen pictures of the area and everything is damaged," Klos said. "I'm hoping they are too busy attending to others that they haven't had the time to check in with friends."

On Sunday, authorities confirmed that 2,152 people have died and another 4,743 people have been injured in the earthquake that flattened homes, damaged sacred temples and destroyed the country's infrastructure.

Page, a former film editor, visits Nepal twice a year to commission folk artists to handpaint portraits of animals. She opened...

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Woodland Hills fire that killed 1, injured 1 ruled accidental

A fire in a San Fernando Valley condominium that left one woman dead and a male relative injured Saturday night has been ruled accidental, according to officials with the Los Angeles Fire Department.

L.A. Fire Department personnel were called at 9:34 p.m. Saturday to a four-story condominium complex on 21650 Burbank Boulevard in Woodland Hills after a fire broke out in a centrally located unit on the second floor of the building.

While the fire was declared accidental, investigators did not elaborate further, according to department spokesman Brian Humphrey. The fire and death are still under investigation. 

Firefighters first discovered a man suffering from severe burns and smoke exposure who was transported to an area hospital. Further in the unit, they found the body of a woman who was declared dead at the scene.

The woman has yet to be identified, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner.

The building and its contents sustained an estimated $500,000 in property damage,...

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California faces serious risk of Nepal-strength earthquake

Can a massive earthquake like the one in Nepal this weekend occur in California?

The short answer is yes. 

Like Nepal, California is situated at the intersection of huge pieces of the Earth's crust and is prone to seismic activity. There have been quakes in California larger than Saturday's 7.8 magnitude temblor that killed thousands.

Most notably, the 1906 San Francisco quake killed an estimated 3,000 people and was estimated to be 7.9 magnitude.

Significantly smaller quakes in highly populated areas have resulted in major loss of life. Three modern quakes — the Loma Prieta in 1989, the Northridge in 1994 and the Sylmar in 1971 — were each less than 6.9 magnitude but each killed more than 60 people.

The 1933 Long Beach quake was 6.4 magnitude and killed 115 people.

The Long Beach quake sparked a serious effort to make buildings that better withstand temblors. Building code changes over the decades have significantly strengthened structures. In Nepal, experts had long feared weak buildings...

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Why Armenia Genocide recognition remains a tough sell

When parties in the Austrian Parliament last week signed a declaration calling the slaughter of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks that began in 1915 a genocide, the Republic of Turkey issued a statement saying it would leave “permanent stains on Turkish-Austrian friendship” and recalled its ambassador from Vienna.

When Pope Francis urged the international community earlier this month to recognize the atrocities as “the first genocide of the 20th century,” Turkey declared his statements “null and void” in a statement and recalled its ambassador to the Vatican.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) told Times Community News it’s typical for Turkey to “vent” and make threats whenever a nation acknowledges the World War I-era slaughter as a genocide, but “it hasn’t ended the relationship with any of them.” Schiff, who has made similar unsuccessful moves in the past, sponsored a resolution introduced last month in the House of Representatives to have the United States officially recognize the mass killing...

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1 dead, 1 injured after fire engulfs Woodland Hills condo

One person died and another suffered burn injuries after a fire engulfed a condominium unit in Woodland Hills.

Firefighters were called to the 21600 block of Burbank Boulevard around 9:40 p.m. Saturday night where they discovered one unit on the second floor of the complex “well involved” in fire, Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

Firefighters discovered an adult male suffering from burn injuries and transported the patient to a hospital, Humphrey said. Minutes later, they discovered a second person inside the burning apartment “without vital signs of life,” Humphrey said.

The gender and age of the second victim were not immediately clear, Humphrey said. He also said he did not know the condition of the burn victim.

The fire was knocked down around 10 p.m, though Humphrey said firefighters “cannot see their hands in front of them – it’s just that smoky.”

No additional details were immediately available.

Follow me on Twitter: @ByMattStevens 

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Vietnamese immigrants mark Black April anniversary

Under a soft rain, a balladeer stepped on the flag-decked stage, singing of lost lives, lost loves.

"Forty years later, we will never forget, ladies and gentlemen," an emcee intoned as the crowd at a high school football stadium clapped. The commemoration of four decades since Black April, the fall of Saigon that ended the Vietnam War, drew more than 1,000 to Garden Grove.

At first, organizers planned a reunion at Camp Pendleton, a refugee haven that welcomed the first arrivals fleeing Vietnam in late April 1975. But military officials would not allow the flying of South Vietnam's flag, a banner from an "unrecognized country," on federal land. They acted on orders from the Pentagon and the U.S. State Department because the U.S. has diplomatic ties with Vietnam's Communist regime.

So the event moved to Orange County's Little Saigon, attracting a smaller audience but one infused with patriotic fervor.

"How can we leave the past behind? April 30 is always unforgettable. We think about it...

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