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Saturday, May 17, 2003

Death toll reaches 19 in smuggling case HOUSTON — The death toll from this week's botched smuggling attempt reached 19 on Friday when an immigrant died at a hospital, two days after being pulled out of a stifling semitrailer.

The 29-year-old man, believed to be from Honduras, died at DeTar Hospital Navarro in Victoria, southwest of Houston, from complications from heat stroke. The toll is believed to be the deadliest in recent U.S. history.

The news came as 18 suspected illegal immigrants were found alive in a tractor-trailer at a South Texas truck stop Friday, not far from where the others died. None required hospitalization. They were turned over to immigration authorities and the truck driver was taken into custody.

Separately, the Border Patrol said it had rescued 17 people from a railroad container car Thursday near the Texas-New Mexico state line. They appeared to be in good health despite temperatures estimated at 110 degrees inside the car.

The rest stop where the trailer was found Friday is about 10 miles east of Victoria and about 120 miles southwest of Houston.

Evacuation order lifted over Michigan flooding MARQUETTE, Mich. — Authorities on Friday lifted an evacuation order for 1,800 residents forced from their homes a day earlier by a churning, sediment-laden Dead River.

Those living directly along the river, however, were told to return at their own risk.

Flooding began Wednesday afternoon, when an earthen dike disintegrated about 30 miles upstream and two dams on the Dead River system failed, authorities said.

Because other key dams held, there were no reports of flooded homes. But authorities said flood waters scoured riverbanks and chewed up public property. City Manager Gerald Peterson said damage to bridges, roads, sewers and water mains probably would be in the millions of dollars.

Trees, logs, railroad ties and other flood debris bobbed in Lake Superior, where the deluge emptied.

Fire damages pumps at hatchery; fish die EMBDEN, Maine — Fire destroyed a hatchery, killing nearly 3 million young Atlantic salmon that suffocated when the flames damaged the pumps supplying them with oxygen.

The fire broke out Thursday night in the mechanical room at the Kennebec Hatchery of Atlantic Salmon of Maine, the state's largest aquaculture business. The pumping system supplied fresh water to about 100 circular tanks holding the fish outside.

Company officials had no immediate estimate of the monetary loss. The cause of the fire was under investigation. No injuries were reported.

The hatchery, about 120 miles north of Portland, contained 740,000 Atlantic salmon smolt ready for transfer to ocean pens, as well as 2.1 million Atlantic salmon fry that were to be stocked in ocean pens this fall and next spring.

3 students arrested over college experiment HARTFORD, Conn. — Three college students were arrested for allegedly staging a kidnapping as a part of a psychology experiment to see how bystanders would react.

James Sanchez, 21; Steven DiStefano, 19; and Lun Chai, 19, were charged with breach of peace, which is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

"It was a pretty goofy thing to do," said Detective Capt. Bill Erickson of the West Hartford police.

Around noon on Wednesday, police received a call that a person was bound and gagged in the back seat of a car near the University of Connecticut's West Hartford campus. Witnesses said two people ordered the third to get out of a car and threatened to kill him, police said.

The "victim" then approached a woman and asked what she was going to do about it, police said.

The psychology students jotted down notes during the encounter, police said.

Police investigating the "kidnapping" found the car in a parking lot on campus, and the students inside the building.

"I think they actually yanked them out of finals," Erickson said. "They may get an incomplete."

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