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India plane crash survivor; Abbas gives details of Israel-Palestine peace talks

Indian firefighters carry a child, reportedly a survivor, out of the debris of an Air India plane that crashed in Mangalore Saturday.
Indian firefighters carry a child, reportedly a survivor, out of the debris of an Air India plane that crashed in Mangalore Saturday. (Associated Press)
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Sunday, May 23, 2010

INDIA

'I saw the plane break into two in the middle'

Flying back to India for a 10-day break from his job in Dubai, Abdul Totuttur was anxious to see his 2-year-old daughter. He looked out at his home town, Mangalore, from his window seat as the Air India Boeing 737 touched down on the tricky table-top runway. Suddenly, the jet was tumbling down a cliff, plowing through trees.

"The plane started to fall. There was a loud thud," Totuttur said, recalling the crash that killed 158 people Saturday after the flight overshot the runway. "The right wing was on the ground, but the left wing of the plane was up in the air. Then I saw the plane break into two in the middle. I had very little time. But I jumped out, about eight feet."

Totuttur, the manager of a sporting goods shop in Dubai, is one of eight survivors.

"I could hear people trapped inside, screaming," he said, speaking by phone from his hospital bed in Mangalore. "I walked on fire for some time. I limped and fell and picked myself up again. When I turned back and looked, there was a loud explosion and smoldering fire."

India has set up a team to investigate the crash amid questions about the runway's safety.

The country's deadliest aircraft disaster occurred in 1996, when 349 people died after Saudi and Kazakh passenger planes collided in midair over northern India.

"Praise be to Allah for the gift of life," Totuttur said Saturday before hanging up.

-- Rama Lakshmi

MIDDLE EAST

Abbas offers details on 2 rounds of talks

The Palestinians are ready to swap some land with Israel, although differences remain over the amount of territory to be traded, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday after two rounds of U.S.-led indirect peace talks.

The negotiations began earlier this month, with U.S. envoy George J. Mitchell shuttling between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Abbas's comments marked the first time a participant has provided details about the talks.

Abbas said the first round dealt with borders and security arrangements between Israel and the state the Palestinians hope to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israel wants to annex Jewish settlements in the war-won West Bank and East Jerusalem.

-- Associated Press

Mothers of jailed U.S. hikers return from Iran: The mothers of three Americans jailed after they crossed into Iran last year returned to New York empty-handed, with one of the women saying leaving their children behind was almost more than they could bear. The women told family members they had spent a total of about 10 hours with their children over two days in Tehran.

Icelandic volcano falls quiet: The eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano has slowed, with the lava flow stopped and only "small amount of ash" being emitted, the University of Iceland said. Volcanic particles spewed last month grounded 100,000 flights and cost airline carriers $1.7 billion in lost sales.

Turkish opposition party gets new leader: Turkey's main opposition party elected a new leader -- Kemal Kilicdaroglu, 62, a former civil servant who backs political and economic reform -- in a bid to win back disenchanted voters. The Republican People's Party, which represents secularist forces, was thrown into disarray when its veteran leader resigned after a sex-tape scandal.

-- From news services


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