3 bodies, 1 survivor in crash

of U.S. plane in Panama

PANAMA CITY, Panama - The bodies of a California businessman, his teenage daughter and the Panamanian pilot of a plane that crashed over the weekend were found yesterday in Panama's mountains, officials said. A 12-year-old American girl survived.

Michael Klein, 37, Talia Klein, 13, and pilot Edwin Lasso, 23, were found dead in a mountainous region of Panama known as Las Ovejas, about 270 miles west of the capital, the civil-protection agency said.

Francesca Lewis, a friend of Talia's who was traveling with the Kleins, survived and was hospitalized with hypothermia and multiple traumas, the agency said in a statement. The severity of her injuries was not immediately clear.

Aviation authorities said the cause of the crash was not yet known, but RPC radio reported that witnesses saw the plane flying at a low altitude around noon Sunday amid buffeting winds.

Klein, 37, a manager of hedge funds, was on vacation with the two girls at an eco-resort he owns in the Central American nation, his ex-wife Kim Klein told the Associated Press from Boquete, Panama, earlier yesterday. The three had been scheduled to return to Santa Barbara, Calif., on Monday, she said.

Poll: Israelis, Palestinians

pessimistic about peace

JERUSALEM - Israelis and Palestinians responding to a survey believe a recent U.S.-sponsored peace conference was a failure and think their leaders won't manage to sign a peace deal in the next year, according to results released yesterday.

Israelis were more pessimistic, with 74 percent saying the peace summit last month in Annapolis, Md., was a failure, compared with 59 percent of Palestinians, according to the poll.

The Annapolis conference officially relaunched Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after a violent seven-year freeze.

At the summit, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to try to reach a Mideast peace settlement by the end of 2008.

But only 23 percent of Palestinians and 8 percent of Israelis think that's possible, the poll showed.

More than half of Israelis - 55 percent - believe that violence will not stop, along with 32 percent of Palestinians, it found.

The poll of 1,270 Palestinians and 564 Israelis was carried out jointly by the Truman Center at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. It had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Japanese premier apologizes

to hepatitis C patients

TOKYO - Japan's prime minister apologized yesterday to four people who contracted hepatitis C from tainted blood products and promised to enact legislation to compensate them.

Yasuo Fukuda met the hepatitis sufferers at his office. They are among hundreds seeking damages from the government and pharmaceutical companies in the blood-products scandal.

"I apologize for the years of indescribable suffering you have gone through," said the prime minister, who has struggled to regain public support after a series of scandals.

The plaintiffs say that they contracted hepatitis C, mainly in the 1980s, from defective blood-clotting agents that the government and the pharmaceutical companies kept using despite knowledge of their potential contamination.

15 dead, 100 missing

after bridge collapse in Nepal

KATMANDU, Nepal - A steel footbridge collapsed yesterday in western Nepal under the weight of hundreds of people on their way to a fair, plunging scores about 100 feet into icy Himalayan waters. At least 15 were killed and more than 100 were missing and feared dead, officials said.

- Associated Press