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World in brief

Fitter SARS patients die in Hong Kong

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 14, 2003


HONG KONG -- Five more patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome have died in Hong Kong, including four who had been in good health before falling ill and failing to respond to treatment that has worked for others, health officials said Sunday.

These deaths raised concerns because the illness killed younger, fitter patients who were previously thought to have a good chance of recovery. Many of Hong Kong's previous SARS victims had also suffered from chronic illnesses.

The fitter patients "just kept deteriorating," said Dr. Liu Shao-haei, a senior executive of Hong Kong's Hospital Authority.

Three SARS fatalities were reported Sunday in Singapore, bringing the global death toll to at least 133. About 3,000 people worldwide have been infected, with most cases in Asia.

Cathay Pacific Airways said one of its executives warned in a memo that its entire passenger fleet could be grounded if traffic keeps falling as the disease hammers Asia's travel industry.

Explosive-laden taxi blows up near U.S. airfield

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A taxi loaded with explosives blew up near a U.S. airfield in eastern Afghanistan, killing four people believed to have been planning a terrorist attack, including three foreigners and at least one man with links to the Taliban and al-Qaida, an Afghan military commander said Sunday.

A man from Yemen, two Pakistanis and an Afghan who was the former intelligence officer for the ousted Taliban, were killed in the blast near the town of Khost, said Khail Baz Sherzai, a regional military commander.

The four were testing a remote-control device when they blew up the car, roughly 200 meters from an airfield used by U.S. forces, Sherzai said.

In elections . . .

NIGERIAN VIOLENCE: Fighting between tribal and political rivals disrupted legislative elections in Nigeria's oil-producing south for a second day Sunday. At least two dozen people were killed and hundreds forced to flee their homes, witnesses and election monitors said. The vote for 469 seats is a key gauge of civil tensions a week ahead of presidential elections and an important test for democracy.

TOKYO GOVERNOR: Tokyo's conservative governor won re-election in a race seen as a test of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's economic policies and support for the war in Iraq, according to early returns and exit polls. Shintaro Ishihara, 70, defeated four other candidates Sunday to win another four-year term.

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