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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

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Flying priest disappears

A priest who took off with hundreds of helium-filled party balloons has gone missing off Brazil.
Rescuers in helicopters and small fishing boats are searching off the coast of Santa Catarina, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Rev Adelir Antonio de Carli took off from Paranagua, wearing a helmet, thermal suit and a parachute. He was reported missing eight hours later.
The 41-year-old priest wanted to break a 19-hour record for the longest period aloft with balloons, to raise money for a spiritual rest-stop for truckers.
A video of the priest showed the smiling padre being strapped to a seat attached to a huge column of green, red, white and yellow balloons, and soaring into the air to the cheers of a crowd.
Denise Gallas, treasurer of Sao Cristovao parish, said he priest soared to an altitude of 20,000 feet then descended to about 8,200 feet for his planned flight to the city of Dourados, 465 miles north west of his parish.
But winds pushed him in another direction, and the priest was about 30 miles off the coast when he last contacted Paranagua’s port authority, she said.
He had a GPS device, a satellite phone, a buoyant chair and is an experienced skydiver.
"We are absolutely confident he will be found alive and well, floating somewhere in the ocean," she said.