Body of ballooning priest found

July 29, 2008 6:10:33 PM PDT
DNA tests confirmed that a body found off the coast of Brazil is that of a priest who disappeared while flying over the Atlantic buoyed by hundreds of brightly colored party balloons, authorities said Tuesday. The Rev. Adelir Antonio de Carli set off from the Brazilian port city of Paranagua on April 20 strapped to 1,000 helium-filled balloons in an attempt to raise money to build a rest stop and worship center for truckers.

But the 41-year-old Roman Catholic priest soon lost contact with his ground team, and the cluster of yellow, orange, pink and white balloons was found in the water a day later.

Tugboat workers discovered a body off Rio de Janeiro in early July that authorities believed belonged to the cleric.

Medical examiner worker Rosane Alves said Tuesday that tests comparing DNA samples from de Carli's brother to the body confirmed their suspicions.

The brother, Moacir de Carli, said the news came as a relief.

"Now we can have a respectable burial service," he told the Agencia Estado news service.

For several days after the priest's disappearance, rescue crews in boats, planes and helicopters scoured a vast stretch of ocean and densely forested mountains.

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