- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 26, 2004

INDONESIA

Megawati saddened by dengue fever deaths

JAKARTA — President Megawati Sukarnoputri expressed deep sorrow yesterday over a widespread outbreak of dengue fever as officials said the death toll had risen to 260.

“To families of the deceased victims, on behalf of the people and the government, I convey my deepest sorrow. I pray that they may be given the strength and patience in facing this trial,” Mrs. Megawati said in a speech broadcast by state-run TVRI.

“I ask all hospitals to accept patients suffering from dengue fever and take care of them quickly and appropriately without discrimination. Let’s face up to this humanitarian threat,” she said. She also urged people to clean their bathtubs and water tanks and bury unused containers to prevent the aedes mosquitoes, which spread the disease, from breeding.

The Health Ministry said five persons had died since Wednesday, bringing the total to 260, of 14,626 infected since the start of the year.

VANUATU

125-mph winds batter Port Vila

SYDNEY, Australia — Winds of more than 124 mph lashed the Vanuatu capital, Port Vila, yesterday as Tropical Cyclone Ivy cut power and communications in the South Pacific island nation.

Job Esau, Vanuatu’s national disaster management chief, said 2,000 people had been evacuated from the capital as the cyclone approached and he had received preliminary reports of major damage to villages on outlying islands.

“The eye of the cyclone is exactly over Port Vila,” he told Agence France-Presse by telephone. “We have … warned people to stay inside and evacuated others to the center [of the island]. We have no way to know if people are missing yet,” as communications are down, and we are most anxious about preliminary reports of major damage to some villages in islands to the north.”

Weekly notes

Russian President Vladimir Putin took his re-election campaign to the country’s Far East yesterday, opening a road linking Vladivostok and the isolated Pacific region to the rest of Russia and Europe. Completion of the 5,600-mile road now makes it possible to travel by cars, bus or truck across the world’s largest country. The inauguration of the 1,353-mile stretch of road from Khabarovsk to Chita, whose construction was first decided in 1966 during the Soviet era, completes the road network from European Russia to the Pacific Ocean. “This is an event of great importance for the entire country,” said Mr. Putin, who is expected to win a second term on March 14. … Adm. Toru Ishikawa, chairman of Japan’s Joint Staff Council, said yesterday he will visit the United States for nine days starting March 4 for talks with American defense officials. He is to meet with Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Adm. Thomas Fargo, head of the U.S. Pacific Command. The Iraq situation and a realignment of U.S. forces worldwide are expected to be discussed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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