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Monday, April 26, 1999 Published at 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK


Press greets first refugees

The arrival in Britain of an aircraft full of Kosovo refugees is on most front pages.

The Times says that although they were happy to be heading for safety, they were also bewildered, and some were tearful having been separated from other members of their families.

The Independent comments that the baggage handlers had little to do - few refugees had many belongings with them.

The Daily Telegraph says that many had been camping out in the biting cold, surviving on only fish and bread. Now they would spend several weeks in hostels in Leeds before being found more permanent accommodation.

The Guardian tells the story of the three-month old baby girl called Dielleza, which means "Little Sunshine" in Albanian. Little Sunshine melted the heart of a Serbian soldier, who allowed the family on to the plane.

The confusion of the Balkans conflict is evident even here, however. The Sun pictures a little girl, smiling and waving as she leaves the aircraft, with the headline: "Hi there, Britain, I'm safe at last".

The Times portrays the same child, which mysteriously is now a boy.

Bomb alert

Several papers warn that the racists thought to have set off two bombs in London could strike again in any British city. "Britain on bomb alert" says The Mirror.

The Express offers a reward of 10,000 for their capture and conviction, to add to the 40,000 being offered by Scotland Yard and other organisations.

The Independent warns that serious as the racist threat is, it should not be confused with the threat of the IRA before 1997, which was presented by a group large enough to call itself an army.

These bombs, it says, are made by those who have shaded into the margins of society and become almost indistinguishable from the psychopaths who are always with us.

'Gazza beaten by booze'

The Sun claims footballer Paul Gascoigne is back on the booze with the headline "Gazza hell of secret vodka binges".

Its front page declares that after six months on the wagon the "tormented soccer ace" has been secretly downing vodkas at home and was spotted drinking Guinness and lager at a pub with friends.

An unnamed source suggests this latest binge may have been triggered after he failed to be selected for England last week.

Wish I wasn't here

Britain's tourist managers may take a new look at the public image of the holiday resorts which they promote.

The Mirror reports on a new travel guidebook. It says, among other things, that Wales, while sometimes beautiful, can feel like an unloved back yard, suitable only for mines and nuclear power stations.

The guide says London is too expensive, Blackpool is tacky, and Birmingham and Coventry nothing but a mass of car parks and ring roads.

The Mirror comments that people living in these gems of Britain can breathe a sigh of relief - at least they will not be over-run by tourists.

Finally, a letter to the editor of The Times seeks clarification of a report that Richard Branson wants to offer holidays in space.

Members of the public could buy seats in a re-usable spacecraft and go into orbit for a mere 60,000 return. Does this mean, asks the correspondent, that a single ticket is available?

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