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World in brief

9 more die from SARS in Hong Kong, but baby saved

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 16, 2003


HONG KONG -- Doctors saved the baby of a pregnant woman dying of the respiratory ailment known as SARS, delivering the child by Caesarean section, hospital officials said. The mother was one of nine people whose deaths were reported Tuesday as Hong Kong struggles to combat the disease.

The global toll topped 150, defying Asia's battle to stop severe acute respiratory syndrome. U.S. experts warned the just-revealed genetic code for the suspected SARS virus doesn't explain how it arose but should lead to better tests to detect it.

The SARS mother's baby was born April 1, according to Hong Kong's Princess Margaret Hospital, which declined to release information on the baby's gender or condition.

The Chinese-language Ming Pao daily said that the baby was not full-term but that doctors decided the 34-year-old mother was so sick they should go ahead with the birth.

The newspaper reported the father had just recovered from SARS and the family had lived in Amoy Gardens, a hard-hit apartment complex with 300 cases of the flulike illness.

The hospital said the mother was admitted on March 26 with SARS symptoms that quickly worsened. She died late Monday.

Premier Wen Jiabao ordered that passengers on airlines, trains and boats be screened, and on Tuesday state media said buses, taxis and public facilities would be disinfected.

The nine deaths reported Tuesday in Hong Kong were its biggest one-day fatality increase since the SARS outbreak reached the territory last month, pushing its toll to 56.

Poll shows promise for Mideast peace

JERUSALEM -- Israelis and Palestinians are optimistic peace talks will resume after 30 months of deadly violence, a poll said Tuesday, even as continuing violence killed three Palestinian gunmen and three Israelis, including one soldier.

The survey found that 70 percent of Palestinians and 67 percent of Israelis believe peace talks will resume after Palestinian prime minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas forms a Cabinet and takes office. The poll was conducted jointly by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

Violence, however, continued Tuesday.

At the Karni crossing point between Gaza and Israel, a Palestinian gunmen fired and threw grenades at Israeli workers, killing two and wounding three others, before soldiers shot him dead. The Islamic Hamas movement took responsibility for the attack.

In the West Bank city of Nablus, Israeli soldiers surrounded a house and demanded three suspected militants surrender. After two emerged and gave themselves up, the third came out firing a pistol, killing Lt. Daniel Mandel, an Israeli army commander.

Soldiers fired back at the gunman, Mazen Fraitekh of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. Fraitekh went back inside, where he was found dead of his wounds.

Also, Israeli soldiers killed an armed Palestinian in the Rafah refugee camp, doctors said.

ISRAEL'S HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD CONDEMNED: The 53-nation U.N. Human Rights Commission overwhelmingly condemned Israel's human rights record on Tuesday, accusing the country of "mass killings of Palestinians" and a host of other violations.

The United States was alone in voting against all four resolutions.

Elsewhere . . .

LEBANON: Prime Minister Rafik Hariri resigned Tuesday. He submitted his Cabinet's resignation to President Emile Lahoud after a meeting at the presidential palace Tuesday night, a statement said.

Lahoud asked Hariri to continue as caretaker until a new prime minister is appointed and a Cabinet formed.

AFGHANISTAN: The United Nation's children's agency, hoping to end the polio scourge in Afghanistan, started a three-day immunization campaign Tuesday aimed at reaching every child in the country younger than 5.

An estimated 30,000 vaccinators and volunteers from the Ministry of Health, the U.N. World Health Organization and UNICEF are expected to administer two drops of oral polio vaccine to more than 6-million children, UNICEF spokesman Edward Carwardine said.

NETHERLANDS: The killer of Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn was sentenced Tuesday to 18 years in prison.

Volkert van der Graaf, 33, confessed to shooting Fortuyn outside a radio station May 6, just nine days before elections in which Fortuyn was contending for prime minister, to prevent him from gaining power and carrying out his anti-immigration agenda.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Its mast blown off and captain dead, a boat loaded with more than 100 Haitian migrants struck a reef and capsized after drifting for a week. Four passengers drowned and at least 18 were missing.

The boat, which set off from Haiti's northern Cap-Haitien city on April 8, tipped over late Monday about 200 yards off Punta Rusia in the northwest Dominican Republic, the Dominican navy said.

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