- - Sunday, July 11, 2010

GERMANY

Hundreds rescued from overheated trains

BERLIN | A grueling heat wave shut down the air conditioning in three high-tech trains in Germany, leaving dozens of passengers near collapse trapped in temperatures of up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit, authorities said Sunday.

At least 52 people needed medical treatment and about 1,000 people had to switch trains, the national railway system, Deutsche Bahn, said.

All three modern ICE trains — whose windows do not open — were headed west from Berlin on Saturday, Deutsche Bahn spokesman Juergen Kornmann said. While two lost their air conditioning fairly close to a station and could be emptied quickly, a third heated up some distance before reaching the city of Bielefeld.

Mr. Kornmann said eight people suffering from heat exhaustion needed to be hospitalized in Bielefeld and another 44 needed medical treatment.

“We regret that some passengers suffered from health problems and even had to be taken to the hospital,” Deutsche Bahn manager Ulrich Homburg said in a written statement. “We are shocked and want to apologize.”

Ninety-one rescue staff called to Bielefeld station had to treat people suffering from hyperventilation, vertigo, overheating, headaches and other symptoms, the local fire fighters said in a press release.

Among those needing treatment were 27 youths who were on their way back from a class trip to Berlin, it said. The other youths continued their journey on air-conditioned buses.

SPAIN

Pamploma to open bull-running museum

PAMPLONA | Pamplona is to open a museum dedicated to the city’s San Fermin festival, where visitors can experience virtually being chased down cobbled streets by a pack of thundering bulls.

The Pamplona bull runs, Spain’s most famous, are held daily every year from July 6 to 14 as the highlight of the San Fermin festival in the northeastern Spanish city, which also involves nine days of music, dancing and drinking.

The so-called “encierros” involve runners trying to outrace six bulls that charge through the old town’s narrow, cobbled stone streets to a bullring where a bullfight is staged.

“We wanted to make a center where people coming to Pamplona can understand what happens in the streets, with the encierros, the bullfighting, the festival,” Pamplona Mayor Yolanda Barcina told Agence France-Presse.

The idea for a museum has been around since 2001, but building work is finally to begin at the end of the year with the center near the city’s bullfighting arenas to open “in 2012 or 2013,” said Ms. Barcina.

The 27,000-square-foot museum is being built at a cost of $29 million and will house a research and archive center on the history of festivals.

FRANCE

Government report clears minister of tax charges

PARIS | Government financial inspectors on Sunday cleared scandal-hit Labor Minister Eric Woerth of accusations that he helped L’Oreal billionaire Liliane Bettencourt evade taxes.

A report by the General Financial Inspection office, which is under the authority of the finance ministry, said Mr. Woerth “did not intervene” in Mrs. Bettencourt’s tax affairs by using his authority when he was budget minister.

Mr. Woerth had been linked to alleged attempts to evade taxes by France’s richest woman, when he was in charge of fighting tax cheats as budget minister.

His name was mentioned in conversations secretly recorded and leaked by her butler, which sparked a widening scandal linked to the billionaire’s fortunes.

Mr. Woerth also has been accused of a conflict of interest because his wife worked for a company managing Mrs. Bettencourt’s estate while he was minister.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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