Hostage Breakthrough

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The released hostages will be given thorough medical examinations, including checks by neurologists and psychiatrists. Said a specialist at the hospital: "We haven't heard of any major physical health problems. But long confinements, even in comfortable circumstances, can do strange things to people." Added a staff psychiatrist: "I'd like to see each of them sent back home just as soon as we're satisfied that they can handle what awaits them in the U.S." The doctors hope that the Stateside welcomes will be quiet affairs because they fear that some of the former captives might not be ready for emotional ceremonies or speeches.

The relatives of the hostages have been asked by the State Department not to travel to Germany. But if any of the Americans require long-term hospitalization, a 400-room hotel just outside the hospital compound is ready to house their families. Louisa Kennedy, a leader of the Family Liaison Action Group in Washington, says that most of the relatives have agreed to wait in the U.S. The State Department has promised that, within a few hours of their release, the freed hostages may telephone anyone they wish, anywhere in the world, at government expense. Hospital officials in Wiesbaden believe that the healthiest of the Americans might be ready to return home within 72 hours, setting off an emotional binge of welcome from Americans who have been waiting impatiently for the hostages' return for more than 440 days.

—By Ed Magnuson. Reported by Christopher Ogden and Gregory H. Wierzynski/Washington

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