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Amusement park ride crashes; dozens injured



Published: Tue, July 31, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Amusement park ridecrashes; dozens injured

MUSKEGON, Mich. -- The wheel of an amusement park ride sheared off its axle and crashed to the ground at Michigan's Adventure Amusement Park on Monday, injuring two dozen people and leaving some riders stranded for hours before rescuers could remove them from swinging cars.

The ride, a variation on a Tilt-A-Whirl called the Chaos, broke free early Monday evening. The ride begins spinning horizontally and gains speed, turning vertically until it resembles a speeding Ferris wheel. The ride fell at about 6:30 p.m. while nearly vertical, leaving riders in the top cars stuck in mid-air.

"They were lucky nobody got hit when it hit the ground because pieces were flying everywhere like missiles. They got real lucky," said Mike McFarland, whose 13-year-old daughter was stuck on the ride until 10 p.m.

Rescuers had to wait three hours to begin removing passengers because authorities feared the wheel was unstable and would fall sideways, Fire Chief Kevin Blanchard said.

Dr. Jerry Evans, from Muskegon's Hackley Hospital, said 25 to 30 people were on the ride, and all but two were transported to hospitals. The last riders to be rescued, 41-year-old James Burtchett and his 13-year-old son Ryan, were not removed from their bottom car until after 11 p.m. Evans said they appeared to be seriously injured.

Condit won't be calledfor lie detector test

WASHINGTON -- A congressman questioned four times about his relationship with a missing constituent "is not the central figure" in the investigation of Chandra Levy's disappearance and is unlikely to be called to take a lie detector test, a top Washington police official says.

Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif., already has submitted to a lie detector test administered by a privately hired expert, and his attorneys said the machine found no indication he had lied. Police previously said they might want to administer their own test.

"I don't think that's going to happen," Terrance Gainer, Washington's deputy police chief, told CNN Monday. "We talked about doing that before. ... I think we're really past the polygraph stage."

In the private lie detector test, Condit denied any knowledge or involvement in Levy's disappearance. He has told police he had had an affair with the former intern at the Bureau of Prisons, according to a police source.

Gainer said despite the multiple police interviews with Condit, neither the lawmaker nor his wife was a focus of the investigation.

Levy, 24, of Modesto, Calif., disappeared May 1.

Gunmen hijack busin southern Russia

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia -- A bus carrying at least 40 people in southern Russia was seized today by gunmen demanding safe passage to an airport in a resort town not far from separatist Chechnya, officials said. At least two people were reported injured.

Security forces quickly sealed off the airport at Mineralnye Vody, where the bus was heading, said Viktor Beltsov, spokesman for the Ministry of Emergency situations. A special anti-terrorist squad was sent to the airport.

The gunmen were demanding the release of five Chechens currently serving jail terms for a May 1994 bus hijacking in the same region, said Igor Trubitsyn, Federal Security Service spokesman.

Trubitsyn said the gunmen were armed with one grenade, 2.2 pounds of TNT and one submachine gun. However, he added that authorities had received conflicting information on the number of gunmen.

The Interfax news agency quoted Russian officials as saying negotiations were underway with the hijackers near the Mineralye Vody airport, where the bus stopped.

AIDS program in Africa

UNITED NATIONS -- Nigeria plans to launch the largest AIDS treatment program in Africa using cheap generic drugs on Sept. 1, a U.N. special envoy said.

The 10,000 adults and 5,000 children who will receive a drug cocktail are just a tiny fraction of the more than 2.6 million Nigerians infected with the HIV virus that causes AIDS.

But the Nigerian government's commitment demonstrates that within Africa efforts are under way to tackle the epidemic that has infected about 26.5 million people across the continent, said Stephen Lewis, special envoy of Secretary-General Kofi Annan for HIV/AIDS in Africa.

"It's a quite extraordinary intervention, a measure of the president's determination that they maintain the level of the pandemic where it is and try to turn it back," Lewis told a press conference on Monday. "They recognize that if Nigeria fails, then much of Africa will fail."

Associated Press




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