Alexandre Meneghini, Associated Press
An albino alligator's eyes emerge from the water at an aquarium in Sao Paulo Friday. The reptiles are very rare.

Brazil: Alligators disappear

SAO PAULO — Seven rare albino alligators disappeared from a Brazilian university zoo, and authorities suspect animal smugglers stole them, officials said Friday.

The theft at the Federal University of Mato Grosso was carried out sometime between Monday, when the alligators were last fed, and Wednesday morning, when a zookeeper noticed their disappearance, zoo director Itamar Assumpcao said. The alligators are extremely rare and are worth about $9,700 apiece, he said.

Iraq: Refugees return home

BAGHDAD — Nearly 50,000 Iraqi refugees returned home from Syria in the final 3 1/2 months of 2007, the latest sign of diminishing violence in this war-pocked country, according to new data from relief workers.

The new figures, contained in a report scheduled for release Monday by the Iraqi Red Crescent Organization, are significantly lower than those provided by some Iraqi officials. One Iraqi spokesman said nearly 50,000 returned in October alone.

Italy: Garbage piles up

NAPLES — Stinking mounds of garbage piled up on the streets of Naples on Friday, and officials around the country blamed organized crime and bureaucratic red tape for the city's refuse crisis.

Effigies of city officials, suspended from lampposts and trees, reflected the fury of Naples' residents, who have had to live amid small mountains of their own refuse since Dec. 21, when collectors stopped gathering it because there was nowhere to take it.

Venezuela: Plane crashes

CARACAS — A plane crashed into the sea off Venezuela Friday with 14 people on board, including eight Italians and a Swiss citizen. There was no immediate report on casualties.

Search teams fanned out by air and sea to look for the downed twin-engine plane, which left Simon Bolivar International Airport near Caracas and hit the sea about 24 miles from Los Roques islands, said Gen. Antonio Rivero, Venezuela's emergency management director. Six helicopters searched through the day before being called off at sunset, while a navy frigate and two patrol boats continued searching into the night.