Aliens rush for rights in Holland

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The Independent Online
AMSTERDAM (AP) - More than 1,000 illegal aliens have claimed they lived in the 77 apartments crushed by an El Al cargo jet after the authorities offered an amnesty to those affected by the crash on 4 October.

Up to 70 people are believed to have died when the Boeing 747 hit a 10-storey apartment complex after losing its two right engines. After the initial estimates of missing persons soared to 250, largely due to the difficulty of tracing illegal aliens, the Mayor, Ed van Thijn, urged them to come forward and promised he would do all he could to prevent their deportation.

The disproportionate number of amnesty applicants was only the latest indication of the illegal immigration problems that have beset the Netherlands, a nation known for its tolerance of foreigners. The crash occurred in the poor Bijlmermeer suburb, home to multitudes of immigrants from developing nations hoping for a better life in prosperous Holland.

About 290 illegal aliens submitted applications by the original deadline last Sunday, but the list ballooned this week with about 800 latecomers who queued in the cold for hours outside the city's registration office.

Rob Kaercher, a mayoral spokesman, said all applications would be considered. The names of those who qualified would be announced, from today, and the records of those who failed would be destroyed. 'We have no intention of using the legalisation procedure as a way of tracking down illegal immigrants,' he said. He declined to say how many people legally lived in the apartments, most of which were three-room dwellings.

The Dutch government said yesterday it would not release a tape of communications between the crew of the El Al jet and the airport control tower, Reuter reports. 'The tape recording is evidence in the crash investigation and we are not allowed to publish a transcript at this stage,' a Transport Ministry spokesman said.

He denied Dutch press reports that it was withholding the recording to cover up mistakes by air traffic controllers that might have contributed to the crash.

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