MISSISSIPPI EXPECTED TO REACH 48 FEET Residents prepared for another record flood crest on the Mississippi River yesterday, while flooding knocked out water service to about 77,000 people in Missouri. Severe thunderstorms and rain battered parts of the upper Midwest Saturday night and Sunday, sending Missouri River floodwaters into the only water treatment plant in St. Joseph, Mo., which was shut down. Crews had sandbagged the plant all day. In Iowa, powerful storms roared across the state, packing torrential rains and winds up to 83 m.p.h. Mor e rain was forecast later yesterday for parts of Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, and Illinois. The Mississippi River is now expected to reach 48 feet at St. Louis on Aug. 1 nearly a foot higher than ever recorded. South Asia flood toll: 2,000

Troops fanned out in monsoon-ravaged India yesterday to repair roads, bridges, and levees after five weeks of flooding left more than 2,000 people dead across South Asia. Troops were also sent to the southern district of Comilla in Bangladesh to rescue 100,000 people marooned on roofs and trees, said government spokesman Mahmud Hussain.

As many as 20 million people have lost homes, livestock, relatives, or businesses in Bangladesh, an impoverished nation where monsoon flooding is an annual calamity. Outrage in Brazil

Legions of fearful street urchins in Brazil took refuge in makeshift shelters Saturday, while an outraged nation demanded swift punishment for gunmen who massacred seven homeless boys. Survivors and police attributed Friday's killings to off-duty police.

The youths were shot to death before dawn as they slept on dirty blankets and cardboard in the shadow of the Candelaria Cathedral in downtown Rio. About 320 of Brazil's estimated 7 million street children have been killed this year alone. Suicides shake Italy

As Italy reeled Saturday from the suicide of Raul Gardini, the second scandal-tainted executive to take his own life in three days, a family financial adviser of the late businessman surrendered to authorities. Legal sources said police had been about to arrest Gardini for alleged involvement in the bribery scandal rocking Italy.

"The suicide of a man as strong as Gardini is a sign of tragic clarity: It's the hour of reckoning for everybody, even those who seemed untouchable," said Italy's top-selling La Repubblica newspaper. Liberian rebel avoids talks

Liberian rebel leader Charles Taylor failed to send an emissary to a peace conference on Saturday, leaving in doubt the fate of a tentative accord aimed at ending the civil war in the West African nation. Mr. Taylor's guerrilla movement, which began the war in 1989, was the only faction not represented at the gathering of the 16-nation Economic Community of West African States.

Taylor has repeatedly reneged on past agreements to end the 3 1/2-year-old war, which has killed an estimated 150,000 people.

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