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Rescue efforts being mobilized in Ecuador...Search for quake victims continues in Japan...Iran vows to defend Muslim countries

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QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Authorities in Ecuador are mobilizing resources and help is getting to the ground after a magnitude-7.8 earthquake that killed at least 77 people and injured hundreds. Earthquake damage has closed roads, making it harder for rescuers to reach where they are needed most. The national airline has organized two humanitarian airlifts with members of the Red Cross and police reinforcements.

MINAMIASO, Japan (AP) — Rescue workers are digging for buried earthquake victims in a hard-hit mountainous area of Japan. Teams of rescuers are going through small clusters of destroyed buildings. Stretchers are on hand in case anyone was found alive. Earthquakes struck Kumamoto city and the surrounding region on successive nights late last week. Nine people died in the first earthquake and 32 in the second. Eleven are missing.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's president is vowing to defend Muslim countries against terrorism and Israel. Speaking during a National Army Day parade today, Hassan Rouhani (hah-SAHN' roh-HAH'-nee) praised Iran's role in helping the Syrian and Iraqi governments roll back the Islamic State group. In the speech, broadcast live by state TV, he emphasized that Iran's military power was for defensive and deterrent purposes, and should not be seen as a threat to its neighbors.

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's prime minister says the country will never withdraw from the Golan Heights and the strategic plateau bordering Syria will forever stay in Israeli hands. In a ceremonial Cabinet meeting today in the Golan, Benjamin Netanyahu said it's time for the world to finally recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed in 1981.

WASHINGTON (AP) — In an office park near Baltimore, 360 people at the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation are trying to reinvent Medicare to improve it, and maybe save taxpayers money. They're doctors, lawyers, health policy experts, career Medicare employees. The center is in its sixth year and so far, its experiments have produced modest results. But its influence is starting to be felt throughout Medicare in areas from joint replacement surgery to cancer treatment and front-line primary care.

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