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Cuban plane crash survivors to stay in U.S.

Cubans
Eight Cubans who were rescued after their plane went down in the Gulf of Mexico arrived in Key West, Florida, late Wednesday  

6 Cubans released from detention center

MIAMI (CNN) -- Amid chants of "Libertad," six of the nine Cuban survivors of Tuesday's plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico were being turned over to their Miami relatives Thursday and the others also were expected to be allowed to stay in the United States.

An INS official in Washington said that barring a surprise, such as past criminal records, all the survivors would be able to file for permanent status after one year.

Earlier, FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said there was "no evidence" their plane had been hijacked, as initially reported by the Cuban government.

FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said the matter had been cleared by the FBI and turned over to immigration officials, who interviewed survivors of the crash.

Six of the Cubans -- two women, two men, and two children -- left the Krome Detention Center in Miami Thursday following a medical evaluation and were being taken to the Miami-Dade County Health Department to be released to their Miami relatives. Members of a Cuban exile group chanted "Libertad" as their van pulled away.

Two other survivors were at the Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West. Rodolfo Fuentes was hospitalized on Tuesday night. His wife, Liliana Ponzoa, was admitted to the hospital with a laceration to her leg Wednesday night.

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CNN's Susan Candiotti reports on what lies ahead for the survivors of the crash

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Their son Andy Fuentes was at the hospital earlier, but was released to the custody of an aunt Thursday morning, the INS said.

The physician who treated the survivors Wednesday night said there was "no doubt that all of them needed medical attention." Dr. David Bannon said Rodolfo Fuentes was doing well and was likely to be discharged soon.

The nine Cubans were plucked Tuesday from the ocean near the Yucatan Pass off the coast of Mexico by a merchant ship, the Chios Dream. The crew of the ship also pulled from the ocean the body of one man, Judel Puig Martinez, 21.



RELATED STORIES:
Cuban plane crash survivors in Key West
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Coast Guard cutter reaches ship carrying survivors of crashed Cuban plane
September 19, 2000
Qatar Airways jet hijacked; man gives himself up
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Jordan reportedly foils bid to hijack flight to Damascus
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RELATED SITES:
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
Federal Bureau of Investigation
United States Coast Guard
Cubaweb
Granma Internacional Digital (in English)
Jane's Online
Jane's Catalogue: Jane's All The World's Aircraft
Boschaero An-2 Antonov Colt
Aviation Images, Antonov An-2 Colt


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