NEW YORK (AP) _ A man accused of helping to murder thousands of Jews as a Nazi concentration camp guard was in the New York area Tuesday, apparently facing imminent deportation to Israel, where he faces a possible death penalty.

Justice Department spokesman John Russell confirmed that John Demjanjuk, 65, a retired Cleveland-area autoworker, was in the area, but declined to say where.

Demjanjuk has been held at a federal prison hospital in Springfield, Mo., since April, when a federal judge in Cleveland ruled that he could be extradited.

''We're looking to get him out (of the country) in the next 24 to 72 hours, and when we do we'll probably put out a news release,'' said Russell, who spoke from Washington.

Israel Radio reported that Demjanjuk was to be put on a commercial flight Tuesday night for Israel. He faces a possible death sentence if convicted of mass murder at the Treblinka death camp in Poland, Justice Minister Moshe Nissim said.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the extradition of Demjanjuk when the justices rejected his final appeals.

He would be the first American extradited under Israel's law against Nazis and Nazi collaborators, and only the second person tried under those laws since Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Israel in 1962.

Eichmann organized the transportation of 6 million Jews to death camps in German-occupied Europe. Demjanjuk, who entered the United States in 1952 and settled in the Cleveland suburb of Seven Hills, is accused of helping in the massacre of 900,000 Jews at Treblinka.

Demjanjuk, who was born in the Ukraine, was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 1981 for concealing his Nazi past when he immigrated from Europe in 1952.

A surrender warrant for Demjanjuk had been turned over to the Justice Department for use by the U.S. Marshals, who would turn over Demjanjuk to Israeli authorities, said Joanne Stessalavage, a State Department spokeswoman.

Ms. Stessalavage and Murray Stein of the Justice Department's Office of International Affairs said they could think of no possible avenues for appeals.

Demjanjuk contends the information used to connect him with the murders during World War II and strip him of his U.S. citizenship in 1981 was supplied by the Soviet KGB.

They contend the evidence was fabricated to discredit anti-communist Ukrainians in the United States.