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All passengers rescued from burning ferry ... Search continues for AirAsia jetliner ... Ukraine drops nonaligned status

By The Associated Press | Posted - Dec. 29, 2014 at 6:50 a.m.



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BARI, Italy (AP) — Italian Premier Matteo Renzi says all the passengers have been rescued from a burning Greek ferry off the coast of Albania. He says only the vessel's captain and four Italian sailors remain on board to help in the operation. The fire broke out yesterday just before dawn on a car deck. Passengers waited on the upper decks in the freezing rain, hail and smoke to be rescued by helicopter. Five people were killed.

BARI, Italy (AP) — One man who was on board the burning Greek ferry says when one of the rescue helicopters arrived people began to panic and trampled each other. Christos Perlis says he and another man tried to impose order, and told everyone that children and then women would be rescued first. But, he says, some men starting hitting him so that they could leave first. Perlis says he reached safety after jumping in a helicopter basket carrying a girl.

SURABAYA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia's air force says oil samples from the Java Sea will be collected and analyzed to see if they're connected to the missing AirAsia jetliner. The oily spots were found by an Indonesian helicopter searching for AirAsia Flight 8501, which had 162 people on board when it lost contact yesterday morning while flying from Indonesia to Singapore. And an Australian plane has spotted a "suspicious" object in the Java Sea, about 700 miles from where the AirAsia plane lost contact.

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's president has signed a bill dropping his country's nonaligned status but is signaling that he'll hold referendum before pursuing NATO membership. President Petro Poroshenko says he's working to reform the Ukrainian economy and its military forces to meet European Union and NATO standards, but will leave it up to Ukrainian citizens to decide whether to join NATO or not.

CROWLEY, Texas (AP) — Police in North Texas say it's too soon to say whether the deaths of four people found in a home in Crowley were a murder-suicide, but authorities say there's no sign that anyone broke into the home. Police found the bodies of two women, a man and a little girl late yesterday afternoon after a 9-year-old in the home called a relative and told her that a man in the house was trying to kill himself. The 9-year-old was not hurt.

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The Associated Press

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