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A chartered Arrow Air DC-8 carrying more than 250 US military personnel and eight crew members exploded and crashed yesterday after takeoff from Gander International Airport and all on board were killed, officials and witnesses said. The crash appeared to be the worst ever of an aircraft owned or chartered by the military.

The airplane was on its way from the Middle East, where the personnel were serving as part of the Sinai peacekeeping force, via Cologne, West Germany, to Fort Campbell, Ky., where the unit is headquartered, an airport spokesman said.

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Investigators were sent by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board to help Canadian investigators.

The FAA said yesterday that Arrow Air had been the subject of a 1984 agency probe into its operations and the airline was told to delay expansion.

Mrs. Bonner reaches Sakharov by telephone

Yelena Bonner reached her husband, Andrei Sakharov, by phone yesterday and he told her that he was ``more or less in a good state of health,'' but their telephone call was jammed when she tried to tell him he was being filmed by hidden cameras, Mrs. Bonner's daughter said. The daughter, Tatiana Yankelevich, told reporters that her mother spoke for about 10 minutes to Dr. Sakharov, a physicist and human rights activist, for the first time since she left him in the closed Soviet city of Gorky to seek medical treatment in Italy and the United States.

US retail sales rose 1.1% in October, reversing sag

Retail sales rose 1.1 percent last month, reversing part of the sharp October decline, as both automobile and department store sales advanced, the Commerce Department reported yesterday. The department said retail sales totaled $115.9 billion in November, an increase of $1.3 billion over the revised October sales figure.

Earlier, it had reported that the nation's foreign-trade deficit grew a record $33.1 billion in the July-September quarter. The second-highest record was $30.9 billion in 1984.

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Israel says it's asking US for $3.5 billion in '87 aid

Israel has asked the United States for $3.5 billion in 1987 aid, $550 million more than the 1986 aid package, Israel Radio reports. And in Tel Aviv yesterday, American investigators began questioning Israeli officials about the case of Jonathan Pollard, a civilian US Navy intelligence analyst accused of spying for Israel, a US official said.

Israeli and US officials are maintaining a news blackout on the questioning.

House joins Senate on pact permitting A-sales to China

The House has voted 307 to 112 to join the Senate in endorsing the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, which could lead to the sale of US nuclear technology and materials to China. Critics of the agreement, hailed as a billion-dollar boon for the US nuclear industry, say it could undermine US efforts to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons by failing to provide sufficient safeguards against acquisition of the technology for use in nuclear arsenals.

House, Senate team settles point that held up farm bill

House and Senate negotiators hashing out a new 1985 farm bill agreed yesterday on key subsidy provisions that could pave the way for accords on other disputed issues and wrap up the legislation before Congress adjourns for the year. Senate conferees agreed to a package setting subsidies for wheat and corn. The grain issues settled yesterday were the most expensive subsidy items in the bill and are traditionally the key to setting policy for other commodities.

1,000 Tennessee convicts to get early parole hearings

Early parole hearings will be granted to more than 1,000 long-term convicts under a package of prison reforms signed by Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander. The prison reform package authorized $37.5 million in state funds to finance jails at Memphis and Nashville to house 1,500 state prisoners. The jails, to be operated by county deputy sheriffs, would be part of 2,730 new prison spaces approved by the lawmakers.

Nicaragua calls up reserves in outbreak against rebels

Nicaragua says it is calling up 30,000 men for reserve military service following an upsurge in fighting between government forces and US-backed rebels during the last two months. A Defense Ministry statement issued Wednesday night said men between age 25 and 40 would be trained to defend Nicaragua's cities and those between 18 and 22 would be sent to fight in the mountains.

Colombian kidnappers ask $6 million for US engineers

Leftist rebels who kidnapped two American engineers from a remote oil camp earlier this week are demanding $6 million ransom for their release, the Defense Ministry reported yesterday. The ministry identified the hostages only as Edward Scholl and Jack Gilles.

There was no immediate comment from the US embassy or from Occidental Petroleum and Bechtel International, the companies for which the two men work.

Key drug, laundering setup charged in US indictments

A federal grand jury has indicted 44 people, a bank, and two companies for alleged roles in what authorities call one of the nation's largest narcotics and money-laundering rings. Authorities say there may be connections between the drug ring and the slaying last March of a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, Enrique Salazar, in Mexico.

Members of the alleged drug ring devised a scheme to use about 40 banks in Texas, California, New York, and the Cayman Islands to launder millions of dollars in drug profits.

Muslim-held parts of Beirut tied up by gas-price protest

Muslim-held areas of Lebanon were brought to a virtual standstill yesterday by a strike against the decree of a nearly 100 percent gasoline price increase made by a Christian government minister.

Chinese pick up on guitars with some Western gusto

China has an estimated 10 million guitar players, more than three times the number that were strumming away two years ago, the official Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. Xinhua said the ranks of guitar enthusiasts have been growing since the end of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, in which the guitar was rejected as a ``counterrevolutionary'' element.

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