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US sees sealift-to-skyjack threat

Federal authorities fear a new problem in air piracy may be brewing: Cuban sealift refugees so disgruntled with conditions in the United States that they will hijack a plane to return home. That, they say, is what happened Wednesday when seven men commandeered an Air Florida Boeing 737, bound from Key West for Miami, with 74 people aboard.

One would-be hijacker who was arrested with a toy gun before he could board the plane Wednesday told FBI agents the refugees did not like what they found in the United States and missed their homeland.

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"They were very despondent," agent Bill Hayes said. "They were upset because of living conditions and because they couldn't find jobs, but mostly because they missed their families."

The hijackers of both planes are believed to have been among hundreds of refugees found homeless and jobless and sleeping in the streets of Miami. The refugees were first sheltered in the Orange Bowl and then in a tent city erected in the city's Little Havana section.

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