Tropical Storm Alex Hovers

Off Coast of South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season developed off the South Carolina coast Sunday as forecasters predicted Tropical Storm Alex would make landfall in North Carolina.

Alex's center was about 90 miles south-southeast of Charleston, S.C., at 8 p.m. Maximum winds were blowing at 40 mph, forecasters said.

The storm had become better organized during the afternoon, prompting the National Hurricane Center to extend the tropical storm warning from Cape Hatteras, N.C., to the South Santee River, north of Charleston.

A watch was extended from Cape Hatteras to Oregon Inlet, N.C.

Alex started as a tropical depression Saturday. It churned toward South Carolina on Sunday at about 7 mph before becoming stationary and gathering strength, forecasters said.

Although the storm was close to shore and conditions were expected to worsen, Alex had little impact Sunday.

* MIAMI -- A couple returning home from a Costa Rican vacation were removed from an American Airlines flight because the man was wearing a T-shirt depicting a bare breast. Oscar Arela and his girlfriend, Tala Tow, who were making a connecting flight at Miami International Airport, said nobody on their earlier flight objected to the shirt and contended the airline violated their constitutional right to free speech. The airline gave them a refund.

* THORP, Wash. -- Firefighters let about 100 people return to their homes after making progress Sunday against a central Washington wildfire believed to have been set by a serial arsonist. The 600-acre fire, which started Friday, forced the evacuation of 200 homes, though many of those were unoccupied seasonal homes. It was the 11th fire started by an arsonist in central Washington's Kittitas County in the past two months.

* DARBY, Pa. -- Torrential rain delayed flights at Philadelphia International Airport on Sunday and caused flash flooding that forced some residents to flee their apartments and blocked commuter trains and roads. No serious injuries were reported.

* NEWARK -- Five of 30 supposedly rare stringed instruments bought by the New Jersey Symphony for $17 million from a man now under indictment for tax fraud are probably not authentic, a newspaper reported Sunday. Five experts contacted by the Star-Ledger of Newark determined that four violins and one cello -- among a collection purchased from pet products tycoon Herbert Axelrod -- were not produced by the master craftsmen Axelrod named.

* ANCHORAGE -- A small cruise ship catering to eco-tourists was seriously damaged after running aground in the Aleutian Islands. The accident punctured the 340-foot Clipper Odyssey's forward fuel tank and forced 153 people to abandon ship, a Coast Guard official said Sunday. No injuries were reported. Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Roddy Corr said about 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from the ruptured tank. Fishing boats and a freighter carried the 122 passengers and 31 crew members to safety at Unalaska.

-- From News Services