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Authorities evacuate homes after plant fire



Published: Wed, May 1, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Authorities evacuatehomes after plant fire

PEARLAND, Texas -- A series of explosions rocked a chemical plant and sent flames hundreds of feet into the sky early today, prompting authorities to evacuate about 100 people from nearby homes. No injuries were reported but one house was destroyed.

Residents near Third Coast Packaging were awakened when their windows were rattled by the blasts at the plant, which packages and labels chemicals and includes a tank farm for storage.

The explosions were heard up to five miles from the plant and flames were seen more than 10 miles away, witnesses said. Pearland is about 20 miles southeast of Houston.

"We had flames 800 feet in the air at the plant," said Houston District Fire Chief Jack Williams. "At one point, about 15 tanks were on fire."

He said it would take two to three days for the burning petroleum products to be extinguished.

"We are not putting any water on the fire. It's not safe enough for our people to get close to there right now," he said.

Williams said two warehouses and one nearby house were destroyed.

Parents: Vice principaldid underwear check

SAN DIEGO -- School officials are investigating complaints by parents that a female vice principal required some girls to prove they were not wearing thong underwear to a school dance.

The incident reportedly occurred at a costume-party dance at Rancho Bernardo High School in northern San Diego County attended by 725 students.

"We are taking this seriously and want to ensure that any actions to be taken are based upon the facts," said Poway Unified School District Superintendent Don Phillips.

Parents assert that the vice principal made dozens of girls lift their dresses to prove that they were not wearing the skimpy underwear. A male teacher made boys wearing togas show that they were wearing underwear, the parents maintain.

"Everyone is just appalled and devastated," said parent Kim Teal, whose daughter, Rebecca, attended the dance, held Friday. "They definitely crossed any line of decency."

Eight parents met with Rancho Bernardo High Principal Paul Gentle on Tuesday.

Parents said the girls were made to display their underwear in front of male students and teachers. "If they were standing nearby, they got to enjoy the peep show," Teal said.

John Dean to disclose'Deep Throat's' identity

SAN FRANCISCO -- Thirty years after the 1972 Watergate break-in, former White House counsel John Dean intends to publish an electronic book revealing who he believes is "Deep Throat," the anonymous informant who helped unseat President Nixon.

San Francisco-based online magazine Salon.com will offer the e-book June 17, managing editor Scott Rosenberg said Tuesday. Dean previously has written political commentary and book reviews for Salon.

"Obviously, he has strong personal interest in the subject," Rosenberg said. "After a lot of careful research that he details in the book, he's pretty certain he knows who it was."

It won't be the first time Dean has postulated on the identity of Deep Throat.

In 1975, Dean said in a speech in Natchitoches, La., that it was Earl J. Silbert, one of the original Watergate prosecutors. Silbert laughed at the idea.

In a 1982 book, "Lost Honor," Dean said Deep Throat had to be Alexander M. Haig, who was the No. 2 aide to Henry Kissinger at the National Security Council and later Nixon's chief of staff. Haig denied it.

2 killed in attack

COTABATO, Philippines -- An explosion at a local festival in the southern Philippines killed two people and injured more than 50 in a hail of shrapnel and an ensuing stampede today, police said.

The blast occurred while people were dancing on a basketball court that had been turned into a trade fair during Labor Day celebrations at Notre Dame village, part of Catabato city, police chief Sanggacala Dampac said.

Col. Essel Soriano, the local military commander, said it appeared someone lobbed the grenade and ran. The safety pin was recovered.

The scene at the overwhelmed local hospital was chaotic. Nurses called for relatives of victims to donate blood for surgery.

The Philippines has been on a bomb alert since a trio of blasts 10 days ago in General Santos, also in the south, killed 15 people. Two suspects who were arrested the next day said there was a plan for more bombings to destabilize the country.

Combined dispatches




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