IN BRIEF

YAOUNDE, Cameroon (AP) Convinced that another disaster lurks beneath Lake Nios, a team of experts begins a high-tech operation Friday to locate and eventually remove the deadly gas that emerged in 1986 to kill 1,746 villagers.

Using a remote-controlled mini-submarine, the experts from France and Cameroon will search the bottom of the lake with an underwater television camera and sophisticated data-collecting devices.

Data will be radioed to the team's command post on shore, and also will be transmitted to interested research laboratories worldwide through a U.S. government weather satellite, the Ministry of Mines said.

The researchers hope the probe of the lake bottom's geological formations will uncover the sources of the carbon dioxide that rose from the lake on Aug. 21, 1986, to suffocate victims as they slept in nearby villages.

Two years earlier, on Aug. 15, 1984, a similar eruption of gas at neighboring Lake Monoun killed 45 people in the northwest corner of this West African nation..

''Cameroon has declared, 'Never again Nios, never again Monoun, never again anywhere in Cameroon,''' Minister of Mines Bello Mbelle said at a news conference Wednesday.

PHOENIX (AP) A group which failed to bring the National Hockey League to Phoenix is eyeing the financially ailing Quebec Nordiques. But by next season?

''I don't know how realistic it is to think it could be done in less than a year, but the target date is April,'' said Mike King, a spokesman for the area investment group that's seeking an NHL team.

Nordiques spokeswoman Nicole Bouchard told The Arizona Republic that majority owner Marcel Aubut ''said he may have no choice but to sell the team, and yes, Phoenix often is mentioned in that regard.''

Bouchard said the franchise has lost more than $10 million playing in the antiquated Quebec Coliseum despite an 11-1 record, second-best in the NHL.

A Quebec newspaper, Journal Le Soleil, quoted Ken Western of the Phoenix investors as saying last month that his association would consider buying the franchise and moving it here, perhaps by next season.

''If something were to happen up there (by April), I could see it happening, perhaps,'' King told the Republic.

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