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Nation in brief

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 12, 2002

Departing Gustav is hurricane

MIAMI -- Tropical Storm Gustav was upgraded Wednesday to a hurricane, the season's first, as it headed toward the Canadian Maritimes, the National Hurricane Center said.

The storm, which dumped up to 6 inches of rain on North Carolina's Outer Banks, had strengthened with a maximum sustained wind up to 90 mph, the hurricane center in Miami said. The minimum for a hurricane is 74 mph.

At 8 p.m., Gustav was centered near latitude 43.3 north, longitude 62.7 west.

Navy plane missing during exercises; three aboard

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- A Navy plane with three officers on board was reported missing during exercises off the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, a Navy spokesman said Wednesday.

The Navy searched all day for the S-3B Viking, which lost radio contact about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, said Cmdr. Ernest Duplessis, a spokesman for the U.S. 2nd Fleet in Norfolk, Va.

Duplessis identified the missing officers, all based in Jacksonville, as pilot Lt. j.g. Thomas McCombie, 25, of State College, Pa.; Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Gray, 40, of Mound, Minn.; and Lt. Cmdr. Michael Chalsant, 36, of Jacksonville.

Radioactivity-tainted ship ordered to wait at sea

NEWARK, N.J. -- A ship detained after traces of radioactivity were detected in its cargo was temporarily ordered back to sea, the U.S. Coast Guard said Wednesday.

The Liberian-flagged container ship, the M/V Palermo Senator, was ordered to stay in a security zone 6 miles offshore while the inspection continues.

In Washington . . .

NEW FAA CHIEF: The Senate on Wednesday unanimously confirmed Marion Blakey, chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, as chief of the Federal Aviation Administration. Blakey will succeed Jane Garvey, whose five-year term expired in August.

MAYOR LEADS IN WRITE-IN TALLY: Mayor Anthony A. Williams had a commanding lead at the end of the first day of counting write-in ballots in the city's Democratic mayoral primary.

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