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Stay Indoors When Mir Passes Over - Minister

Date Posted: 2001-03-23

Okinawans have been urged to stay in their homes or offices the day the Mir space station scuds over the region. The 140 ton 33 meter Russian craft is due to splash down somewhere in the South Pacific at 3.30 pm tomorrow and will pass over Japan on its way there.

Crisis Management Minister Bunmei Ibuki asked local governments in Okinawa Prefecture to tell residents to stay indoors on the day the abandoned craft flies over. Ibuki, who is also chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, said there would be a 40 minute period of possible danger if the 15 year old space stationís engines fail to fire.

The minister told government officials in charge of crisis management to be alert around the clock from Thursday to Saturday to deal with any incidents involving the craft.

Uncertainty about Mirís performance has been a recurrent theme, with 1,500 malfunctions reported during its existence.

The Russians themselves are not taking any chances over the unpredictable Mir and have taken out three insurance policies worth $200 million, in case of accidents.

Meanwhile a sold out jumbo jet full of passengers paying $5,600 each, will be taking off from New Zealand for a close-up view of Mirís final flight.

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