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World briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 22, 2000


Alp flood waters ebb; 37 deaths confirmed

ROME, Italy -- As floodwaters began to ebb in southern Switzerland and northern Italy on Saturday, attention turned to the massive job of cleaning up and rebuilding after a devastating week of high water and mudslides.

In Switzerland, a search team found another body, raising the overall death toll in the two countries to 37. Several people were still missing and at least 23,000 people overall were still unable to return to their homes. Authorities estimate the damage in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The river's flood crest is expected to reach the Adriatic today.

"Tomorrow we will end the state of emergency and concentrate all of our energy, attention and resources on beginning to rebuild what has been damaged," Enzo Bianco, Italy's minister for civil defense, said Saturday after a tour of the damage wrought by the Po River.

On Saturday, the water level of the Po was reported to be dropping by about two inches an hour. In Comacchio, where the Po empties into the Adriatic, animal carcasses, tree trunks, and other flood debris clogged the port, hindering navigation.

Thousands speak out against hate in Germany

DORTMUND, Germany -- Thousands of Germans joined together in this western city Saturday to protest foreigner hate, the extreme right and a neo-Nazi demonstration.

"This event shall serve as a beacon for the uprising of concerned people," said North Rhine-Westphalia governor Wolfgang Clement, alluding to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's call for ordinary Germans to speak out against a recent wave of hate.

Organizers said 20,000 people attended the event in Dortmund, an industrial center in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany's most populous state.

Later, about 600 neo-Nazis marched through the middle of town under heavy police guard. Three officers were injured as leftist counterdemonstrators tried to break through police lines, and two leftists and two neo-Nazis were arrested.

People demonstrate for peace in Basque city

BILBAO, Spain -- Tens of thousands of people marched on Saturday through the streets of this Basque port city behind a banner demanding "Peace. ETA No" and calling for an end to the region's separatist violence.

ETA, whose name stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom, has claimed responsibility for nearly 800 killings since 1968 in its campaign for an independent state encompassing parts of northern Spain and southwestern France.

This year it has stepped up its actions and is blamed for killing 15 politicians, judiciary figures, journalists and security force members across Spain.

Saturday's protest, called by Basque regional government president Juan Jose Ibarretxe and his Basque Nationalist Party, followed a week of accusations that Ibarretxe was using the protest to whip up support for his ailing administration.

Authorities search for Mexican disco owners

MEXICO CITY -- The family that owns the Mexico City disco that caught fire, killing 19 people, has dozens of other nightspots in the capital -- and a history of legal violations.

One of the family's most popular clubs, the Lobohombo, caught fire before dawn Friday, forcing dozens of patrons to flee toward the only available exit. Many said they were blocked from leaving the burning building by guards who insisted they show tickets proving they had paid their bill.

Authorities have shut down the club 11 times for code violations, but the owners managed to negotiate its reopening each time, according to Dolores Padierna, a local neighborhood official.

Mexico City Mayor Rosario Robles has criticized the judges that allowed the disco to remain open, saying the city will lodge a complaint against them. She also called for officials to detain one of the owners, Alejandro Iglesias Rebollo, on homicide charges.

Authorities were searching Saturday for the disco's owners.

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