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News Briefs

January 15, 1996
Web posted at: 10:30 p.m. EST

Congressman from New Mexico to meet with Castro, others in Cuba


MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- CNN has learned that congressman Bill Richardson, D-New Mexico, will be traveling to Cuba this week to meet with government officials.

The trip is a private one by the congressman, who has been successful in dealing with international affairs in the past. Richardson has helped secure the release of two Americans imprisoned in Iraq for straying into Iraqi territory, and successfully got the North Koreans to release the body of a pilot shot down.

Sources in Washington confirm the Congressman's trip this week and his plans to meet with top Cuban officials, including President Fidel Castro, President of the National Assembly Ricardo Alarcon, Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina, Economic Czar Carlos Lage and some Cuban dissidents.

When asked earlier about the trip, President Clinton's adviser on Cuba, Richard Nuccio, said "Congressman Richardson is a very distinguished member of Congress who has been very helpful over the last couple of years to the administration in some critical areas. But we haven't asked Congressman Richardson to do or go. It isn't an official, semi-official, slightly official, winkingly approved official trip to Cuba."

According to sources, the congressman hopes to talk about immigration issues, fugitives and human rights.

8 killed in Idaho plane crash


MALAD CITY, Idaho (CNN) -- A corporate plane with four Coca- Cola executives on board crashed and burned in a canyon Monday, leaving no survivors.

The twin-engine turbo-prop was flying the business people from Salt Lake City to Pocatelloe, Idaho for a sales meeting. The plane went down in overcast, calm weather two-thirds of the way into the 150-mile trip.

The Mitsubishi MU-2B made a rapid descent on radar screens, according to air traffic controllers, and the pilot reported an emergency. The wreckage was found at the base of a canyon 10 miles northwest of Malad.

Insurers report catastrophic fourth quarter

opal graphic

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Insurers suffered a record property loss in the fourth quarter of 1995, with Hurricane Opal helping to push damages to $2.6 billion, the insurance industry reported Monday.

The record-breaking fourth quarter comes at the end of a year that counted Pacific Coast storms and violent Southwest hail among disasters that caused $8.3 billion in damage to insured properties in 1995.

An unusually large number of last year's catastrophes affected densely populated areas, resulting in a record 2.7 million catastrophic claims.

But the year did not feature dramatic losses like Hurricane Andrew's $15.5 billion in Southeast property damage in 1992, or the Northridge, California earthquake, which caused $12.5 billion in property damages in 1994.

It was too early to estimate damage from the blizzard that buried the East Coast last week, said insurance officials.

Man killed at same train crossing where he survived 1926 crash

NORTHBROOK, Illinois (CNN) -- A man was killed by a train at the same crossing where he survived a collision between a train and school bus 70 years ago.

Herman Lorenz, 88, was hit by an Amtrak train Saturday while walking home from work in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook.

Witnesses say Lorenz went around the crossing gates and kept going after the train engineer sounded his horn.

In the 1926 crash, "Dad got his glasses knocked off and his coat torn," said son Jay. "He never forgot he survived and always tried to help others."



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