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NEW FIRES IN KOBE CHALLENGE RESCUERS Japanese firefighters battled fresh fires as the death toll from Tuesday's earthquake rose past 4,000. Exhausted rescue crews worked around the clock, searching for the 652 people still missing late yesterday. A group of Swiss rescue workers with 10 tracker dogs specially trained to find survivors joined Japanese crews. More than 21,000 people have been injured, and 120,000 are homeless. Nearly 26,000 buildings have been destroyed or heavily damaged (see story, Page 1). As the scope of the devastation became clearer, the Japanese government began to accept international offers of help. US Air Force transport planes based in Japan flew in blankets to Kobe victims. Defense officials rushed 7,000 troops to conduct relief operations and placed another 6,000 on alert, and 5,000 police were on the scene. Because of food shortages, the Agriculture Ministry was rushing 3,000 tons of rice, 2.3 million bread loaves, and 700,000 boxed lunches to the Kobe area. US trade deficit worsens

The US trade deficit climbed to $10.53 billion in November, the Commerce Department reported yesterday. The country could have its worst trade deficit in history for 1994. Exports, helped by a surge in commercial-aircraft sales, climbed to an all-time high of $61.16 billion, up 2.2 percent from October. But imports were up an even larger 2.5 percent to $71.69 billion, boosted in part by a big jump in oil imports.

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Bosnia truce frays

With a Jan. 1 truce accord meant to last for four months not yet fully implemented but already fraying, Bosnian Serbs and the Muslim-led government were sliding back yesterday into the sporadic fighting and pressure tactics that have characterized much of the 33-month-old war.

GM strike over overtime

For the third time in five months, overtime demands and production speedups have led to a strike at General Motors Corporation.

About 6,800 workers walked out Wednesday at the AC Delco Flint East plant in Michigan, which supplies spark plugs, filters, cruise controls, and instrument clusters to dozens of assembly plants across the US.

De Klerk denies rumor

Deputy President Frederik de Klerk described serious strains in South Africa's coalition government yesterday, but said he had no intention of quitting.

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Cave paintings found

French officials announced Wednesday the discovery of 300 prehistoric wall paintings in a cave in southern France. They are more spectacular than the famed paintings of Lascaux or Altamira, they say.

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