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Balloon Priest's Body Identified Using DNA

Authorities say DNA from a body found earlier this month off Brazil's coast matches a priest who disappeared while flying over the Atlantic attached to hundreds of brightly colored party balloons.

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.

When de Carli, took off that fateful day he was wearing a helmet, aluminum thermal flight suit, water proof coveralls and parachute and was seeking to break a record for the longest time in-flight with party balloons. The experienced skydiver, who had survival and wilderness training, was also carrying a GPS tracker and a radio so he could report his position to the Brazilian Navy and air traffic control.

He planned to use the money raised in his attempt to break the 19-hour record to fund a "spiritual" rest stop in Paranagua, home to Brazil's largest grain port.

He was reported missing about eight hours after taking off when he lost contact with port authority officials.

The 41-year-old Roman Catholic priest disappeared and the balloons were found in the water. Tugboat workers found a body in early July that authorities believed belonged to the priest.

Medical examiner worker Rosane Alves on Tuesday said that DNA tests had confirmed the body was de Carli.

The cluster of yellow, orange, pink and white balloons was seen two days after takeoff, floating intact in the sea off Brazil's southern Santa Catarina state near de Carli's last contact point, according to a photograph posted on Sao Paulo's UOL news Web site.

Authorities reached the cluster of balloons but the priest was not there.

The priest embarked on a similar adventure on Jan. 13, when he used 600 balloons to carry him on a four-hour, 17,390 foot-high voyage from the town of Ampere to neighboring Argentina, where he landed safely.

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