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Flying-balloon priest goes missing

Latest update : 2008-04-23

A 42-year-old Brazilian priest has gone missing at sea after taking to the sky in helium-filled party balloons. The Catholic daredevil was campaigning for more rest stops for long-distance lorry drivers.

Hopes were fading Tuesday in Brazil for a priest who floated aloft on the weekend tied to 1,000 giant party balloons after several of the helium-filled globes were found floating at sea.
Father Adelir de Carli, 41, soared into the sky from the southeastern town of Paranagua on Sunday, sitting in a harnass attached to the white, red, yellow, green and pink balloons, and wearing a thermal outfit and helmet.
He was trying to draw attention to his campaign to provide rest stops for long-distance truck drivers, and to enter into the Guinness Book of Records.
A known adventurer, he had already made a previous similar flight with 500 balloons in January that reportedly took him as high as 5,000 meters (16,400 feet).
But bad weather this time pushed his makeshift contraption out to sea off Brazil's southern coast, and in his last contact with police Sunday night he said he was encountering problems.
A search involving 50 people, several boats and helicopters and a coastguard plane on Tuesday located the cluster of balloons floating 150 kilometers (90 miles) from the area he had been expected to land, authorities said.
Parishioners in his church were praying for him, said a woman who worked with him on his truckers' initiative, Eliana Aparecida dos Santos.
De Carli was an experienced skydiver, his brother Marcos de Carli told Globo television.
The priest was also "very obstinate" and wanted to fly despite the poor weather, he added.
The balloons used in the feat were of the type commonly seen in Brazilian street parties -- larger and with a thicker membrane than those used in small indoor private celebrations.

Date created : 2008-04-23