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TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Gov. Chris Christie secretly underwent gastric band surgery in February to try to lose weight at the urging of his family.

The father of four agreed to the surgery, in which a tube was placed around his stomach to restrict the amount of food he can eat, after turning 50 in September, he told The New York Post for a story in Tuesday's edition. He said he wasn't motivated by thoughts of running for president.

"I've struggled with this issue for 20 years," he told the newspaper. "For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them."

Christie has never disclosed his weight. But he joked about his size during a February appearance on "The Late Show with David Letterman," pulling out a doughnut and saying his girth was "fair game" for comedians.

Christie was soon angered by comments from a former White House physician who said she worried about him dying in office. The governor said Dr. Connie Mariano should "shut up."

Days later, on Feb. 16, Christie had the surgery. He said the operation lasted 40 minutes and he was home the same afternoon.

"A week or two ago, I went to a steakhouse and ordered a steak and ate about a third of it and I was full," he told the Post.

Christie declined to say how much weight he has lost since the surgery.

The Republican governor is running for a second term in November, although his name is often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate.

"I know it sounds crazy to say that running for president is minor, but in the grand scheme of things, it was looking at Mary Pat and the kids and going, 'I have to do this for them, even if I don't give a crap about myself,'" he said.

Gastric band surgery is pitched as a minimally invasive procedure. One version of it is sold under the brand name Lap-Band. Its website says the surgery is appropriate for adults who have failed with more conservative alternatives, such as diet and exercise.
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(ABC NEWS) Investigators hope that the four people who escaped a limousine fire, in which a newlywed and four other women died, will offer key information about what started the weekend blaze as they crossed a San Francisco-area bridge. Passersby caught the horrifying scene on camera which can be seen by scrolling down below.

Nine women were in the limo, along with a male driver, when it caught fire in the westbound lane of the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge late Saturday, California Highway Patrol said. 

The bride was identified as 31-year-old Neriza Fojas. Fojas, a registered nurse, was recently married in the United States and was planning a second ceremony in the Philippines next month. Fojas and her friends were on their way to the Crowne Plaza Hotel for her bridal shower, where her husband was waiting, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The driver, who was not hurt, told investigators he was driving the women over the bridge when one of them complained of smoke inside the passenger compartment, San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said, according to The Associated Press.

By the time the driver pulled over and exited the 1999 Lincoln Town car, the back of the limo was fully engulfed in flames. Four passengers escaped the blaze, with one squeezing thought the partition behind the driver.

Firefighters rushed to the scene and put out the fire before finding five badly burned bodies huddled near the partition.

"My guess would be they were trying to get away from the fire and use that window opening as an escape route," Foucrault said.

The San Mateo County Coroner's Office has not officially released the names of the women killed in the fire.

The owner of the limousine company, Limo Stop, told ABC News in a statement that he's deeply saddened and will do everything possible to investigate and assist authorities.

Police say it is unclear how the fire started and will be counting on surviving victims to give their accounts leading up to the inferno. The flames reportedly spread so fast that the rest of the women sitting in the back of the limo had no time to escape.

Other drivers stopped to assist, California Highway Patrol Officer Amelia Jack told ABC News.

"The driver was able to get out, some good Samaritans did stop and assist and try and pull people from the fire," Jack said.

Russell McGillicuddy, owner of Air One Limousine Service in San Jose, Calif., said the 1999 Lincoln Town car only had two doors in the back.

"It was an aged piece of equipment and I don't believe it had the extra door and they would have to climb over each other and exit through the rear doors," said McGillicuddy, who has no connection to the limo in question.

Friends fondly remembered Fojas as likeable and active.

"She was nice person, quiet and friendly," Roy Talagon said.

Ivy Savero said, "I always saw her in her Facebook that she's riding a bike … sometimes, I think, mountain climbing."

California Highway Patrol identified the surviving passengers as Mary Grace Guardiano, 42, of Alameda; Nelia Rafael Arellano, 36, of Oakland; Amalia P. Loyola, 48, of San Leandro; and Jasmine Desguia, 34, of San Jose.

Desguia and Loyola were listed in critical condition, a spokeswoman for Valley Medical Center told the AP. The condition of Arrellano, who was taken to another hospital, was unknown. Guardiano's condition is unclear.

 

The driver's name is Orville F. Brown, 46, of San Jose from Limo Stop Inc., according to California Highway Patrol.

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 BEIRUT (AP) - A Syrian activist group says Israel's weekend airstrike on a sprawling military complex near the Syrian capital Damascus has killed at least 42 Syrian soldiers.

   The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday that the toll is based on information from sources in Syrian military hospitals.

   The Syrian government has not released a death toll. Immediately after Sunday's predawn strike, Syrian state media said the attack caused casualties, but did not elaborate.

   So far, Israel has carried out three airstrikes in Syria this year, according to Israeli and U.S. officials, though Israel's government has not formally confirmed involvement.

   The officials say the attacks were meant to prevent advanced Iranian weapons from reaching Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, a Syria ally and Israel foe.

 

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