- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2004

JAPAN

Second bird flu outbreak confirmed

TOKYO — Japan said yesterday that its second outbreak of bird flu was caused by the same deadly virus strain as the first — the H5N1 that has swept through Asia killing 22 persons.

“Our studies have confirmed the second case was also caused by H5N1, as was the previous case” last month, Japan’s first bird-flu outbreak in 79 years, an Agriculture Ministry official said.

In the latest case, flu was confirmed in 13 chickens and a duck kept as pets in the town of Kokonoe in southwestern Japan. The two outbreaks are on different islands, separated by about 37 miles of water. Some specialists believe bird flu is spread by migratory birds.

TUVALU

Rising sea swallowing isles

FUNAFUTI — As the sea threatened to submerge Tuvalu yesterday, Prime Minister Saufatu Sopo’aga blamed global warming but vowed his people never would give up their Pacific Ocean homeland.

In an interview with Agence France-Presse as freak tides flooded much of the tiny country, Mr. Sopo’aga said Tuvalu always would exist, even if most of its land were under water. If the nation of 11,500 people some 2,100 miles northeast of Australia were completely consumed by the sea, under marine law Tuvalu would continue to exist under the waves.

“King tides” started to batter the low-lying nation at sunset yesterday, flooding homes, offices and part of the airport. Larger tides are expected today and tomorrow. Tuvalu comprises 10 square miles of land scattered over nine atolls, none of which rises more than 15 feet above sea level.

Weekly notes

A U.S. B-24 bomber shot down over Palau in the central Pacific in World War II has been found with the remains of eight missing American airmen, authorities announced. The coral-encrusted but mostly intact wreck shot down in 1944 was discovered under 70 feet of water in an undisclosed location. “This plane undoubtedly has human remains on it,” said Patrick Scannon, leader of the BentProp Project, a 10-year, volunteer effort to find American wrecks in Palau and provide closure for surviving families. … Cambodia called yesterday on the United States and Vietnam to provide information that may help identify spots where bombs were dropped and land mines planted during the Vietnam War. Prime Minister Hun Sen, in a speech to foreign diplomats and donors aiding demining activities, said the cooperation of those two countries is needed to hasten the clearance of explosive ordnance and mines in parts of Cambodia where their war spilled over. It is estimated that 4 million to 6 million land mines were planted in Cambodia between 1967 and 1975, when the Vietnam War ended.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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