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SCHOOL BLAST: A large firecracker blew up in a crowded schoolyard outside Paris Thursday, setting off a rush of police fearful of another terrorist attack. Police initially thought the device was a bomb, then said it turned out to be a homemade firecracker designed to frighten, not kill. They appeared to be treating the incident as a practical joke.AVALANCHE: One person was killed and at least 20 were missing Thursday after an avalanche slammed into an isolated village in western Iceland, Norwegian reports said. The Norwegian state radio network NRK said the snow hit the village of Flateyri, 155 miles northeast of Reykjavik, at about 4 a.m.

Across the nation

COKE BUST: New York state troopers were on routine patrol in Queens as part of a narcotics task force Wednesday when they saw two cars being driven erratically. When they stopped the vehicles, they had no suspicion of the significant find that awaited them: $20 million in cocaine, a haul that prosecutors said would put a significant dent in the borough's drug trade. The drugs were found tightly bound and wrapped in kilo-size bundles, tucked in six duffle bags in one of the cars. Officials said that after making the discovery, they charged three members of a Dominican drug ring for transporting the cocaine, which totaled 187 kilograms.

STATUE SUIT: McDonald's Corp. and one of its franchises have been found partly responsible for an accident in which a Ronald McDonald clown statue toppled onto a little girl, severing her fingertip. McDonald's and Cassidy Restaurants should pay Elena Montgomery $41,400 in damages, a jury found Wednesday in Noblesville, Ind. The jury noted that the girl's parents were partly responsible for not watching her closely enough. Elena, then 6, and a friend were swinging from the statue at a Cassidy Restaurants playground in June 1992 when the 125-pound clown tipped over. Elena lost the fleshy tip of the second finger on her left hand when it got caught between Ronald McDonald and a brick wall. It was reattached, but Elena still has a malformed fingernail.