NEW YORK

Pilots, passengers gather to mark Hudson river crash

The pilots and some passengers on a plane that made an extraordinary landing on the Hudson River marked the fifth anniversary of that remarkable event on Wednesday, giving thanks to those who kept everyone who was on that flight alive.

“I’m filled with joy and gratitude about what was able to be accomplished by so many five years ago today and the fact that all 155 passengers and crew are here today because of it,” said Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III, who gained instant fame for his calm handling of US Airways flight 1549.

The flight had just taken off from LaGuardia Airport when a flock of geese disabled the engines. Sullenberger safely glided to a water landing and all 155 passengers and crew members were rescued in what became known as the “miracle on the Hudson.”

Sullenberger and about a half-dozen passengers gathered at the NY Waterway ferry terminal to thank the ferry boat company, whose boats quickly got to the downed plane and rescued people. They then boarded a boat and sailed out to the area of the landing, where they raised a toast.

WASHINGTON

Agencies used drones 700 times in past three years

Local, state and federal agencies ranging from local sheriff’s offices to the North Dakota Army National Guard have borrowed unmanned surveillance drones from the Homeland Security Department nearly 700 times in the past three years, according to government records obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

The San Francisco-based civil liberties group got the Customs and Border Protection records as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The records do not list which sheriff’s offices or local law enforcement agencies were able to use the surveillance drones.

New video shows U.S. soldier detained since 2009

U.S. officials have received a new video of captured U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl that they believe was taken within the last month, showing that the soldier is alive.

The video came to light several days ago, said one senior defense official.

Another official said that Bergdahl appeared in poorer health than previous videos, showing the signs of his nearly five years in captivity.

Bergdahl, who is from Idaho, was taken prisoner in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. It is believed he is being held somewhere in Pakistan.

The Taliban have said they would free him in exchange for several of their most senior operatives who are being detained at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In a statement, Bergdahl’s family said that they learned Wednesday about the video.

CAIRO

Top election official says voter turnout is high

Egypt’s top election official declared Wednesday that turnout was high in a national referendum, but a boycott by a wider-than-expected range of ultra-conservative Islamists raised the prospects of continued polarization.

The majority of Egyptians who converged at the polls appeared to support the charter, which was likely to pass in voting Tuesday and Wednesday amid an intense media campaign in its favor and a tight security grip silencing its opponents.

The interim government was seeking a high turnout as a mandate for its vision of the country’s future.

The constitution is a key piece of a political roadmap toward new elections for a president and a test of public opinion about the coup that removed Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood from power last July.

It is a heavily amended version of a constitution written by Morsi’s Islamist allies and ratified in December 2012 with some 64 percent of the vote but with a nationwide turnout of just over 30 percent.

In its first test after siding with the military-backed government, the lone major ultraconservative voice in support of the new draft charter, the Al-Nour Salafi party, appeared unable to bring masses of its followers to the polls.

Turnout was very low in Salafi strongholds, especially in villages and small towns.