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Key part missing from Boeing jet

Sat., Sept. 1, 2007, midnight

TOKYO – Inspectors found a key part missing in a Boeing jetliner during an emergency check prompted by the explosion of a similar plane last week in Japan, officials said Friday.

Inspectors found a washer missing from a wing slat in a Boeing 737-700 airplane owned by Air Nippon, an oversight that could have led to a bolt coming loose, said Transport Ministry official Atsushi Shimamura.

On Aug. 20, a China Airlines Boeing 737-800 landed at Okinawa’s Naha airport and exploded in a fireball seconds after all 157 passengers and eight crew were safely evacuated.

Investigators found that a bolt on the right wing slat had come loose and pierced a fuel tank, causing fuel to gush out and catch fire. Later, three parts including a washer were found near the fuel tank.

Authorities don’t know if the bolt came loose because the washer was not in place.

Following the explosion, officials were ordered to inspect all Boeing’s newer 737 jetliners in Japan. There are 23 of them owned by three airline companies.

ATHENS, Greece

Nations promise aid after deadly fires

Promises of aid poured in from around Greece and overseas Friday as firefighters doused most of the huge wildfires that ravaged the countryside for a week, killing 64 people.

The European Union said Greece probably would receive $237 million in emergency aid and could be eligible for $546 million more, depending on the amount of damage caused by the fires.

The U.S. Agency for International Development said it was providing $1.3 million in equipment and technical assistance, while the Greek government said China promised $1 million.

Damage was estimated at more than $1.6 billion.

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, who faces a close race for re-election in less than three weeks, promised to rebuild all homes destroyed by the fires through a new disaster relief fund made up of state and private contributions.


Apology sought over kung fu claim

China’s Shaolin Temple has demanded a public apology from an Internet user who claimed a Japanese ninja beat its kung fu-practicing monks in a showdown, a lawyer said Friday.

An open letter from the temple posted on the Internet on Thursday denied the fight ever took place and called on the person who posted the claim to apologize to the temple’s martial arts masters. Monks from the temple said they will consider legal action if the person doesn’t make a public apology.

The incident comes amid lingering tensions between China and Japan over World War II atrocities. China is sensitive to anything that smacks of Japanese militarism. Many believe Tokyo has yet to show adequate remorse for its wartime actions in China.

The posting last week on the “Iron Blood Bulletin Board Community” described a ninja who challenged the monks of the Shaolin Temple to a fight in August after practicing boxing at a Japanese mountain retreat for five years. The Internet user claimed the monks accepted the challenge and the ninja won, proving the monks are trained to perform rather than fight. The Shaolin Temple’s letter said the posting was “evil” and “a pure fabrication.”

From wire reports


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