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Ten campers killed by explosion,'ball of fire'
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CARLSBAD, N.M. — On one side of
the Pecos River are three charred pickup
trucks, remnants of a weekend camping
trip. Beyond the other bank are dusters of
An explosion of a natural gas pipeline
just before dawn Saturday swept flames
down the river’s banks and through the
tents of two families, killing 10 people
and leaving two critically burned.
The only survivors, a man and his
daughter-in-law, were in critical condi
tion Sunday at a Lubbock, Texas, hospital.
“They were consumed by a huge ball
of fire,” said state police Lt Larry Rogers.
Officials described the ruptured line
as a massive flame-thrower that show
ered burning fuel on the victims.
The victims were members of two
southeastern New Mexico families who
had been camping along the river in an
unmarked but popular camping site for
area fishermen, said state police Capt.
Five were under the age of 6, includ
ing infant twins.
Some had been fishing along the
river's banks, their lanterns set up to light
their way, officials said. Others had been
asleep. They had no chance to escape the
flash of fire, caught between the river and
the ruptured gas line.
One survivor recalled being awak
ened by shouts to find herself and every
thing around her on fire, Balderston said.
She jumped in the river, then found she
couldn't get back to the children because
of the intensity of the flames.
By the river’s edge, investigators
found sleeping bags and the melted geo
metric shapes that once were tents. The
trucks looked as though they had taken a
direct hit from a bomb.
A nearby bridge carries the 30-inch
natural gas pipeline across the river, then
the pipeline goes underground, said
Norma Dunn, spokeswoman for El Paso
Natural Gas Co.
The pipeline was five to six feet under
ground at the rupture point, Dunn said.
The force of its explosion carved out a
crater that authorities said measured
about 86-feet long, 46-feet wide and 20
The fire burned 40 minutes to an hour
and was visible from Carlsbad, 20 miles to
the north, Balderston said.
On Sunday, investigators from the
National Transportation Safety Board
were trying to determine what caused the
pipeline to rupture and explode.
"There is no indication it was third
party damage or foul play,” said John
Somerhalder, president of the pipeline
group for El Paso Energy. “This was a very
■The query's focus shifts to the
whys.Offidak say the vessel was
flooded shortly after sinking.
THE AS80CIMED PRESS
MOSCOW - Norwegian
divers struggled to open the
escape hatch on a nuclear sub
marine that sank with 118 men
aboard, but they found no sign of
life Sunday as Russian officials
said mo6t of the vessel was flood
ed in minutes when it went down.
The Russian navy has all but
ruled out hope that any of the
crew remains alive nine days after
the Kuisksank, crippled byamas
President Vladimir Putin,
widely criticized for his slow and
low-key public response to the
crisis, pledged Sunday that “until
the last minute, we will do every
thing to save everyone who could
The clivers worked for most of
the day and well into the night.
They tried several times to wrest
the hatch open with a crane but
failed, Russia’s ETTR television net
The divers found signs that
some of the 118 crewmen may
have tried to get out but were
unaUe to open the escape hatch,
Deputy Prime Minister Ilya
Klebanov said on RTR.
The divers, working 350 feet
below the surface of the Barents
Sea, were moving slowly because
ofthe depth. Each dive was taking
several hours, navy officials said.
No decision had been made
on whether a British mini-sub
marine that arrived Saturday
would be used in the rescue oper
ation. Klebanov said the escape
hatch was so badly damaged that
it was unlikely the British vessel
could latch on.
Conflicting signals emerged
from the three-nation rescue
operation over the state of the
New details emerged Sunday
of how severely the Kursk was
shattered in the first few minutes.
For days, the Russian navy had
insisted the submarine was in
“Wi&er almost instantly flood
ed the submarine’s hull up to the
fifth or sixth compartments
“ The crew in those sections
died almost instantaneously and
the submarine became uncon
trollable,” Klebanov said. Some of
the crew may have survived for a
time in the three aft compart
Ssrah Baker QutitlomT ConmnantiT
Kimberly Sweet ■
Samuel McKewon or e-mail, onwunl.edu
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ALL MATERIAL COPYRIGHT 2000
, ' . I
Cub's tale reminicent of Smokey the Bear
■Iheas-yet unnamed bear
was apparently orphaned by the
still-raging U5. wildfires.
THE AS90CIAI ED PRESS
Like the original Smokey the
Bear, a small cub has emerged
burned but alive from the wild
fires that have charred forest
and rangeland across Montana.
The cub, apparently
orphaned and weighing only
about 20 pounds, was in a vet
erinary clinic being treated for
bums on all four paws.
"He’ll be a little tender-foot
ed for awhile, but he should be
fine,” said the state wildlife war
den who rescued the animal, Joe
There were 98 major fires
burning Sunday in Arizona,
California, Florida, Idaho,
Montana, Nevada, Oregon,
Texas, Utah, Washington and
Wyoming, according to the
National Interagency Fire
Center in Boise, Idaho.
They had blackened a total
of about 1.3 million acres, it
In Montana, the 30 most sig
nificant fires had burned about
600,000 acres, the fire center
The Bitterroot Valley
remained Montana’s worst fire
zone, accounting for more than
a third of the state’s burned land.
Hundreds of evacuees have
been forced from their homes,
and some have been unable to
return for more than two weeks.
A blaze near Toston,
between Helena and Bozeman,
remained the greatest challenge
Estimates of the size of the
fire ranged from 100,000 acres to
less than half that.
Smoke prevented a precise
mapping of the fire, said Graver
A branch of the Ryan Gukh lire bums a hMside near Missoula, Mont, on Friday.The Ryan Gukh fire has consumed 17,404 acres
acconSng to the National Interagency Fire Center and is estimated at 40 percent contaimiient The Ryan Gukh fire is only one of 27
fires in Montana that hare burned 458,244acres.
Johnson, a Gallatin County
emergency services official.
Ranchers still had no word
on cattle that had been grazing
in the area that could not be
removed after the fire started
Tuesday in a grain field.
Because of that fire, one of
two major power lines that carry
electricity from a Montana
power plant to the West Coast
was idled Sunday for more fire
related repairs, but service to
consumers was not interrupted,
Montana Power Co. reported.
The two power lines had
shut down automatically when
the Toston fire burned under
neath them but were restored to
The bear cub, who has not
been named, was spotted in the
Bitterroot Valley on Friday by a
landowner, said Jacquith, who
believes the cub’s mother was
probably killed by fire.
Jacquith set a trap for the
cub in a burned area southeast
of Darby. He said the cub was
"skin and bones” but had gotten
water from a creek and meat
from the carcass of a burned
Jacquith said the cub is too
young to spend the winter alone
in die wild and may be moved to
a Helena wildlife shelter after
veterinary care in Hamilton.
He said the cub eventually
will be released into the wild. ^
In 1950, a bear rescued by
firefighters in the Lincoln
National Forest near Capitan,
N.M., was named Smokey the
Bear and became the national
fire-prevention mascot Smokey
died in 1976.
Elsewhere in Montana,
crews returned on Sunday to a
blaze 20 miles south of Big Sky
and 12 miles west ofYellowstone
National Park, after being pulled
back Saturday because of high
That fire, started by light
ning Aug. 11, had burned an
estimated 6,000 acres, informa
tion officer Tom Lavagnino said.
Several ranches had been
evacuated in the area, he said.
Basque group blamed for fatal Spain car bombing
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
‘tS a day Spain - two Civil
of pain, Guard agents
... these were killed
deaths Sunday in a
will he a bomb attack that
" , “ poUce blamed on
Stimulus a Basque sepa
in the ratist group - the
fight latest in a string
against °f <*«%•»**»
rj-A m smce ETA ended
C a truce last year.
.552 A bomb that
r^nrv222 attached to the
Civil Guard agennrpatIDlcar
virtually demolished die vehicle,
police said. A female agent died
instantly; the other agent, a man,
died in die hospital
The attack, in the eastern
town of Salient de Gallego, on die
border of France, came just after
6 a.m. There was no immediate
claim of responsibility or com
ment from EIA, whose name is a
Basque-language acronym for
Basque Homeland and Freedom.
Since ETA ended its cease
fire last December, it has been
blamed for the deaths of 11 peo
ple - four of them since July.
Victims have included politi
cians, businessmen, police and a
One of the victims Sunday,
Irene Fernandez Pereda, 32, was
the first female Civil Guard agent
killed in separatist violence,
according to the state news
agency Efe. The 22-year-old
man, Jose Angel de Jesus
Encinas, had been on the force
for three months.
“The car was absolutely pul
verized,N said Jose Luis Sanchez,
the mayor of Salient de Gallego.
Sanchez said residents near
the bomb blast heard a vehicle
driving fast in the area an hour
before die explosion.
He said die bomb exploded
as the pair started the vehicle to
begin the day’s patrol.
The Basque separatist group
blamed in Sunday’s killing is
believed to have killed about 800
people in its 32-year-old war for
independence on Spain’s north
ern Basque region on the border
Santiago Lopez Valdivieso,
director general of the Civil
Guard, pledged an intensified
crackdown on ETA.
“It’s a day of pain, but you can
be convinced that, starting
tomorrow, these deaths will be a
stimulus in die fight against ETA.
We will end up winning,’’he said.
Early McCain findings positive
If John McCain could have his way,
he’d blaze through his recovery from skin
cancer surgery and return to campaign
ing for the Republican Party as soon as
“Obviously Sen. McCain would like to
get back to the campaign trail tomorrow,
but it depends on his recovery time,”
McCain spokeswoman Nancy Ives said
The Arizona senator was expected to
remain at the Mayo Clinic Hospital
through today or Tuesday while recover
ing from Saturday’s surgery to remove
two melanomas from his left temple and
left arm, said a statement released from
McCain’s office. Melanoma is the most
serious form of skin cancer.
Preliminary findings showed that the
cancer has not spread to McCain’s lymph
nodes and that all melanoma was
removed during the surgery, said
McCain’s internist, Dr. John Eckstein. It
would take several days to fully evaluate
test results from the removed tissue, but
McCain’s doctors were “very optimistic”
about his future, Eckstein said.
McCain was eating normally Sunday
and was experiencing little discomfort.
McCain also was visiting with his staff
both in person and by phone and was
receiving news updates and discussing
usual Senate business.
The news of his cancer came during
the Democratic National Convention and
just days after he toured Western states
with Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who won
the GOP presidential nomination after a
primary battle with McCain.
McCain told reporters on Friday that
he hoped to be campaigning again by
Labor Day, but Eckstein said Saturday it
was unclear whether doctors would clear
him by then.
McCain has canceled about a dozen
campaign events with GOP congression
al candidates since learning of the skin
cancer diagnosis. Republican leaders had
counted on McCain’s help to win inde
pendent voters and keep the GOP majori
ties in the House and Senate.
The Associated Press
Rebels release workers
held as hostages
OLO-Three Malaysian resort
workers held for four months by
Philippine Muslim rebels headed
home Sunday, and Libya said it
will keep working with European
countries to win the release of the
24 other people in captivity on the
"I’m very happy,” said freed
hostage Ken Fong Yin Ken, as he
hugged his father, the pilot of the
Malaysian plane that flew to
remote Jolo island to take him
and two others home.
The three Malaysians were
released Friday, but they tem
porarily stayed with another rebel
faction for safety after their van
ran out of gasoline. The Abu
Sayyaf rebels who ransomed
than still hold 24 other hostages,
including 12 Westerners, in their
remote jungle camp.
The rebels, who seek an inde
pendent Islamic state in the
southern Philippines, reneged on
a plan to release all the hostages
We will not compromise
The Palestinian cabinet
insisted there will be no compro
mise with Israel on the key issue
of Jerusalem, in a tough state
ment Sunday coinciding with
U.S. envoy Dennis Rossfeefferts to
revive Mideast peace talks.
The tone of the debate
became more acrimonious as
Israeli Prime Minister Qiud Barak
said it was now up to the
Palestinians to make the next
move in peace efforts, while a
Palestinian official warned that
Jewish settlers in the West Bank
and Gaza could become hostages
ifa crisis erupted
t The Palestinian cabinet said
Israel must withdraw from east
Jerusalem, which would become
the Palestinian capital.
“The Jerusalem issue is not
negotiable and cannot be so
today, tomorrow or in the future,”
the cabinet said in a commu
nique distributed fay WAFA, the
Palestinian news agency.
Government, Ui. seize
fiiM fftir mi riiw n ■«% msbjI
live tons or cocaine hi vaia
CARACAS - Venezuelan
forces seized five tons of cocaine
and arrested at least seven people
in a remote jungle region in the
eastern coast during the country^
largest drug bust to date, authori
ties said Sunday.
The raid, which took place
Friday, was the result of a six
month investigation financed by
the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Agency. The National Guard
recovered 173 packages of
cocaine about to be shipped to
Europe, National Guard Officer
Eduardo Sanchez said.
Agents are still in pursuit of at
least two suspected leaders of die
Los Mellizos drug ring who fled
into the Orinoco jungle during a
gun batde that preceded the raid.
The probe, known as
“Orinoco 2000,” used telephone
bugging equipment, more than
200 anti-drug officers, three
planes, three helicopters and
eight boats. Colombia, France,
Britain, Italy, Greece and Panama
also collaborated with the opera
tion, the paper said.
Venezuela is a key trafficking
route for Colombian cocaine en
route to the United States and
near eastern border
RABAT - Moroccan King
Mohammed VI said late Sunday
that a large field of oil and gas find
been discovered near the king
dom’s eastern bonier, the official
news agency said
The king said the find “was
good-quality and abundant," but
he did not put a figure on the
amount discovered near Ihlsint,
about 60 miles from the border
with gas-rich Algeria, the MAP
This spring, some independ
ent Moroccan media speculated
that the underground store could
contain up to 20 billion barrels of
But Moroccan Energy
Minister Youssef Tahiri in July
called the reports “fantastic and
premature,” saying only that
there were encouraging signs of
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