By Star-Bulletin StaffSaturday, June 20, 1998
None of the 423 passengers aboard Continental Micronesia Flight 002 was injured, officials said. The cause of the explosion was being investigated, said Wally Dias, the airline's vice president of marketing.
The passengers were put on another plane, which left Agana's airport for Honolulu about four hours later today (yesterday, Hawaii time). The flight arrived in Honolulu at 9:45 p.m. last night.
Felix Taitano was at an outdoor flea market when he heard the explosion, looked up and saw smoke and flames coming from the engine. Taitano said he feared the plane was going to crash.
Airport spokesman Andrew Murphy said the pilot of the Boeing 747 circled the island and dumped fuel, then landed safely.
Passenger Lionel Baza, 30, called relatives after the plane returned to tell them he was all right.
"He was real scared and was gripping the arms of his seat all the way back," said Baza's father, Juan Baza. "He was wondering if they were going to make it."
A news report said the engine exploded, but Continental spokesman David Messing said aviation professionals would call it a "contained failure."
He said the outer casing of the engine is designed to stay in place during an engine failure, which it did in this case. He also added that the Boeing 747 can fly with the three remaining engines but was landed because of safety procedures.
Opponents say an irradiator would pose a danger to the community, and irradiated foods would suffer chemical changes, which would make them dangerous to eat.
Many experts deny those claims, including the American Council on Science and Health, a New York-based group of doctors and scientists which issued a statement yesterday.
"Extremist organizations have tried repeatedly to inflame public fears, both of irradiation itself and of irradiation facilities, but the claims of these misguided zealots are, quite simply, untrue," the council said.
Parents Against Irradiation, based in Hilo, is headed by Naomi Cohen, wife of physician Mark Cohen. The group dedicated Friday's petition action to the late Dr. Susan Gilbert, who helped lead the organization.
Hawaii County has an ordinance which bans most nuclear
A commercial banana farmer and a Kilauea resident were resisting the state's eradication effort.
About 400 residents cooperated and allowed state workers to inject a lethal herbicide into more than 21,000 banana plants in the town of Kilauea, said department spokeswoman Ann Takiguchi.
Banana farmer Sherwood Conant said he resisted the state's plan because bananas are his sole source of income and he wasn't offered any compensation to offset his losses, which he estimates at $40,000 a year.
Conant also said he doesn't believe the eradication will stop the spread of the virus because he had sold more than 500 young banana plants to others outside the quarantine area from a field that agriculture officials claimed was at least 30 percent infested.
Conant said he provided the names of those he sold the plants to, but when he called the buyers, he was told their plants hadn't been checked.
Takiguchi disputes that, saying officials traced and tested all plants sold outside the quarantine area.
It also will be the scene of building repairs and a community gardening effort to be started this summer under the leadership of VISTA volunteers.
The plans for changes were to be unveiled today at a neighborhood barbecue party at Mayor Wright, which has been the scene of violence including gang fights and a New Year's Day fatal shooting by a police officer.
Federal Housing and Urban Development funding will be used to establish Community House, a base for community-policing officers and a center to organize resident patrols.
"The idea is to make the police a positive presence," said Hawaii Housing Authority spokeswoman Amalia Bueno.
"HUD recognizes the need to sustain community activities and resident programs. We've been going that way on safety and security issues."
For the 1997-98 school year, 91 percent of 233 schools that underwent inspections passed with no violations, down from 95 percent last year, said schools Superintendent Herman Aizawa.
But the total number of violations has plummeted.
When the inspections began in 1992-93, schools were slapped with 1,783 violations. This past school year, a total of 54 violations at 18 schools were recorded.
Any violation constitutes failure.
The continuing improvement can be attributed to collaborative efforts by the Department of Education, county fire departments, Department of Accounting and General Services and the Statewide Fire Council, Aizawa said.
Another 162 permanent positions which are vacant also are eliminated.
State Deputy Budget Director Neal Miyahira said Friday that the state employees to be laid off during the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, include two Agriculture Department workers, two clerical staffers in the attorney general's office, a clerk-typist in the Department of Defense, eight professional and clerical staffers in the Health Department, a clerk-typist in the Labor Department, and four in the aquaculture program.
Sixteen positions in the state public broadcasting program and six in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Commission program also are on the chopping block.