Mon, Jan 27, 2003
Adding to the nuclear tensions and rising
anti-American sentiment along the Korean peninsula, an Air Force
General "deeply apologized" Sunday for the crash of an American U-2
near Seoul. The U-2 slammed into an auto repair shop, sparking a
fire which consumed the shop and a nearby house. The pilot was
able to safely eject, but three people on the ground were
"We are deeply sorry for this accident," said Brig. Gen. Mark
Beeley, commander of the US 7th Air Force. Beesley visited the
injured at a hospital in Seoul, Sunday. The U-2 crashed eight
months after two young Korean schoolgirls were hit and killed by a
US Army vehicle on maneuvers. That incident, and the acquittal of
the soldiers involved, sparked angry protests among Korean students
and has led to a rising tide of anti-Americanism in the South.
North Korea admitted under US diplomatic pressure in November it
was researching nuclear weapons. That violates a 1994
agreement between Pyongyang and Washington. Earlier this month,
North Korea ejected UN nuclear inspectors and withdrew from
the worldwide Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Through it
all, the government of Kim Jong-il has blamed what it called
"American nuclear aggression" for its actions. Trying to take
advantage of incidents involving American soldiers and South Korean
civilians, North Korea called on the South to present a "united
stand" against the US. South Korean officials flatly refused.
Not The End Of 'The First'
The Lockheed U-2 from the 5th Reconnaisance Squadron had just
taken off Sunday from the air base at Osan. It reportedly crashed
31 miles south of Seoul, in the town of Hwasung.
Photos of the wreckage indicate the U-2 was
not the historic "Dragon Lady," 68-10329 (right). That
U-2S was the first ever -- having rolled off the Lockheed assembly
line in 1967. A/C 329, which celebrated 20,000 logged hours in
2001, is also stationed at Osan.
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