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World in brief

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 23, 2002

French send help for Westerners in Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- France sent reinforcements and helicopters to the Ivory Coast on Sunday to protect Westerners in the former French colony after a coup attempt threatened to split apart West Africa's one-time economic power house.

While the government readied a counterattack against rebels behind the country's bloodiest military uprising, thousands of people in Bouake, a central city controlled by coup forces, marched to declare their allegiance to the insurgents.

The government said the uprising has left at least 270 dead, including a Cabinet minister and a former military ruler.

Hope of finding avalanche survivors wanes

GIZEL, Russia -- Rescuers searched through debris choking a gorge in southern Russia on Sunday after a huge chunk of glacier raged down the mountainside, but authorities said there was little hope of finding survivors and they feared as many as 150 people were killed.

By nightfall, emergency workers had recovered the battered remains of six men and about 100 people were missing, said Lt. Gen. Ivan Teterin, commander of the rescue effort.

Emergency officials believe at least 100 and as many as 150 people were killed by the avalanche, which ripped through the Karmadon Gorge in North Ossetia on Friday evening.

Slovakia election results help NATO, EU efforts

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- General elections boosted Slovak hopes of joining NATO and the European Union by leaving an authoritarian former prime minister with his worst showing, preliminary results released Sunday show.

The electoral commission results showed Vladimir Meciar's HZDS party first with 19.5 percent, more than 7 percentage points below its 1998 election results. The SDKU party of Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda was second at 15.09 percent.

Despite its first-place showing, Meciar's party had little chance of making a comeback because he is rejected by potential coalition partners. They have been warned by the United States and the European Union that Slovakia has little chance of joining NATO and the EU under Meciar.

Swiss reject sharing gold proceeds with needy

GENEVA -- Swiss voters rejected sharing the windfall of a multibillion-dollar gold sale with the needy.

According to the official final returns, 52 percent, or 1.05-million voters, turned down a government plan to spend the interest from the sales of "excess" gold in three ways -- one-third to the Swiss social security program, a third to regional governments and a third to people in need at home or abroad. Just 984,590, or 48 percent, voted in favor of the plan. Some 44.1 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

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