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Pilot walks away from two crashes in one day



Published: Fri, January 11, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Pilot walks away fromtwo crashes in one day

DURANGO, Colo. -- Justin Kirkbride emerged unscathed from two air crashes and a six-hour rescue hike in the rugged, snow-covered mountains of southwestern Colorado, but he insists his tumultuous day was no big deal. "I like to think of them as landings because I walked away," Kirkbride said Thursday.

But rescuers hailed the 31-year-old pilot from Farmington, N.M., as a hero for his effort Wednesday, saying he did all he could to keep his passengers from suffering worse injuries. The two passengers in the Cessna were rescued with broken bones and scratches. "He really did some heroic things that made an enormous difference in the outcome of this event," La Plata County spokeswoman Joanne Spina said.

Kirkbride's first brush with danger occurred when he safely brought down his single-engine Cessna 172 in a patch of trees after he had trouble controlling the plane. He then walked six hours to summon rescuers, who decided they needed Kirkbride on the scene because of his knowledge of the crash's whereabouts. Kirkbride joined rescuers on a helicopter. After they located the wreckage, the helicopter spun several times and plunged 70 feet to the ground not far from the Cessna. No one was injured in the crash.

Israel destroysrunways in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Israel sent tanks and bulldozers today to tear up runways at Palestinian-controlled Gaza International Airport and warned of further actions if Palestinian attacks do not stop. Israeli forces detained 11 Palestinians, eight suspected of smuggling weapons and three suspected militant activists, the army said.

Israeli bulldozers also destroyed a Palestinian police post in the Gaza Strip that had earlier been abandoned, Palestinian security sources said. The army said it had no information on such an attack. The raids in Gaza were in retaliation for a Palestinian attack that killed four Israeli soldiers, the army said in a statement. The Islamic militant group Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Although Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has condemned the attack, Israel blamed him, saying he is not serious about cracking down on militants.

Argentines protesteconomic situation

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Argentines angry over a draconian banking freeze took to the streets by the thousands, banging pots and demanding access to their savings -- the latest test for a government about to find out how its currency will do on the open market. A 3-week-old ban on foreign exchange transactions was to expire today, forcing Argentines to pay a floating free-market rate for hard currency.

Many fear the peso's value will plummet and prices will soar. "I'm sure the peso's going to go down," postal worker Hugo Vallejos said. "People have no confidence in the situation and no confidence in the future."

The protests followed the announcement of a government plan that calls for money over $10,000 in checking accounts and $3,000 in savings accounts to be switched into fixed-term deposits -- making the funds off-limits to depositors for at least a year.

Popular anger over the decision triggered the first major street demonstration since President Eduardo Duhalde took office Jan. 2 as Argentina's fifth president in less than a month.

Associated Press




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