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FLEEING: Authorities ordered the southern half of the tiny British colony of Montserrat evacuated Wednesday after scientists warned there was a 75 percent chance a rumbling volcano would erupt. The scientists gave no time estimate but told civil authorities they could no longer assure six hours' notice of a major eruption, Montserrat Gov. Frank Savage said. "On the advice of the scientists, we have evacuated quite a large part of the island, roughly half the island, roughly two-thirds of the population," he said.OUSTING: France plans to expel 20,000 illegal immigrants every year, stepping up the current figure by 50 percent, Interior Minister Jean-Louis Debre said Wednesday in Paris. "An efficient policy against clandestine immigration is not possible without expulsions," government spokes-man Francois Baroin quoted Debre as telling a Cabinet meeting. France would also continue controversial group deportations.

FREED: Colombian Marxist guerrillas have released a U.S. citizen they held captive for nearly a year in the country's southwest, El Tiempo newspaper reported Wednesday in Bogota. It was not immediately possible to confirm the report, but the Caracol radio network also reported his release. The newspaper said late Tuesday guerrillas freed Thomas Hargrove, who worked at an international research center near the southwestern city of Cali editing scientific journals.

Across the nation

DONATION: Owners of a grocery-store chain donated $25 million to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, N.Y., the bulk of it intended for poor children at six inner-city schools. Robert Wegman and his wife, Peggy, said $21.5 million is earmarked for financial aid vouchers for children in preschool through sixth grade. The gift was made Tuesday. "We are trying to bring some continuity to the whole educational process," said Wegman, the 76-year-old chairman and chief executive of Wegmans Food Markets Inc.

VICTIM? Timothy McVeigh's attorneys are asking the judge assigned to the bombing case to step aside, saying that he is a victim of the Oklahoma City blast. The motion filed Tuesday asks that U.S. District Judge Wayne Alley and all other judges in Oklahoma's Western District not handle the case. Alley was not in the federal courthouse April 19 when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building across the street was bombed. But his chambers were damaged and one of his staff was slightly injured.