Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, March 09, 2007

Three backpackers rescued from sea ice

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ANCHORAGE - Army National Guard members plucked three Korean backpackers from sea ice Thursday after they were stranded in the Bering Strait.

Park Yough Seok, 43, Oh Hee Joon, 36, and Lee Hyeong Mo, 38, were picked up from an ice floe 17 miles southwest of Tin City on Alaska's west coast, said McHugh Pierre, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. There were no injuries.

The backpackers were trying to walk across the ice pack from Russia to Alaska but became stranded, he said.

While in Russia, the hikers were flown by helicopter from Uelen Settlement to the frozen shore, but Russian authorities would not allow them to cross unless they made emergency arrangements with someone in United States.

Pierre said the backpackers carried a satellite phone and made a deal with a private service, but that company's helicopter had mechanical problems Thursday.

Instead, an Army National Guard helicopter from Nome picked up the backpackers.

BP brings Northstar field back online

ANCHORAGE - An offshore oil field in the Arctic Ocean has been brought back on line, a BP spokesman said.

The Northstar field was producing about 33,000 barrels a day at midweek.

"We continue to ramp up production," said BP spokesman Daren Beaudo.

Normal production is about 40,000 barrels daily. BP should reach that after completing a prescribed start-up process, Beaudo said.

The Northstar oil field was shut down almost three weeks ago when a pinhole-size leak was discovered during a routine inspection of wells and processing facilities.

The facilities are on a man-made gravel island six miles off the north coast of Alaska. The 27-square-mile field is 39 feet beneath the ocean surface.

Anderson's friends raise money for legal fees

ANCHORAGE - Friends of Tom Anderson are soliciting donations to help pay for his legal fees as the former state representative prepares to face federal bribery, extortion and money laundering charges in court next month.

They've circulated a letter to at least 100 people asking for financial help. Anderson's defense costs are estimated at $250,000.

"There may come a time in your life when tragedy befalls you, and the only hope you get comes from family and friends," the letter said. "This is the case for our mutual friend, Tom Anderson; this includes his wife Lesil, baby Grayson and their respective families."

Among those supporting "The Tom Anderson Defense Fund" are owners of assisted-living homes who say Anderson championed their side in a battle with the state over room-and-board costs.

Anderson is accused of participating in a scheme in which a sham company was set up to hide bribes. The indictment charges him with collecting $12,828 in a series of payments from a lobbyist who represented private prison interests.

Anderson's trial is set to begin in April, though the date could change.

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