Friday, May 18, 2001

2 cases of polio diagnosed in Europe
COPENHAGEN — Two cases of polio — the first in Europe since 1998 — have been diagnosed in Bulgaria, the World Health Organization and Bulgarian officials said yesterday.
Bulgarian health authorities determined last month that a 13-month-old baby, a Gypsy in the Black Sea city of Burgas, had the virus, the WHO said. Other children in the community of Gypsies, also known as Roma, were immediately vaccinated.
However, on Tuesday, the same virus was identified in a 2-year-old Gypsy child in the city of Yambol, 60 miles west of Burga, Bulgarian health officials reported.
Laboratories in Paris, Rome and Atlanta studied the virus and traced it to northern India, according to a statement from WHOs European region headquarters in the Danish capital.
“The fact that the virus was imported from India shows just how important worldwide vaccination campaigns are,” WHO spokesman George Oblapenko said.

All aboard airline killed in Iran crash

TEHRAN — A plane carrying Irans transport minister and seven members of parliament crashed in heavy rain in eastern Iran yesterday, killing everyone on board, the Interior Ministry said. At least 29 persons were killed.
The wreckage was found in a region between the eastern cities of Kashmar and Neishabour in Khorasan province, Interior Ministry spokesman Jahanbakhsh Khanjani told the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
The head of the Civil Aviation Organization, Behzad Mazaheri, said 32 persons were on board. The discrepancy could not be immediately explained.

Duma rejects move hitting anti-Semitism

MOSCOW — Russias parliament yesterday rejected a motion asking President Vladimir Putin to officially condemn “the appearance in Russia of anti-Semitism, nationalism and fascism.”
Lawmakers turned down the appeal for the third time, with most of the chambers members absent during the vote. The 219 votes in favor fell short of the necessary 226 to pass in the 450-seat State Duma. Seventy-three deputies voted against the measure, and 108 did not vote.
Alexander Fedulov, an independent deputy in the chamber, sponsored the nonbinding motion.

Pension strikers cripple Greece

ATHENS — A nationwide strike to protest pension reform brought Greece to a standstill yesterday with banks and businesses closed and tourists blocked from ancient sites or stranded on islands.
About 10,000 demonstrators marched outside parliament during the second mass strike in three weeks. Labor unions strongly oppose the Socialist governments plans to overhaul Greeces near-bankrupt pension system.
A few self-proclaimed anarchists scuffled with police and at least one protester was hospitalized with injuries.

200 rural hostages freed in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia — Paramilitary fighters have freed some 200 plantation workers after seizing them two days earlier in a town in Colombias eastern plains, officials said yesterday.
The workers were being transported back to Villanueva, the town where they work on palm oil plantations, army Gen. Eduardo Santos said.
Troops encountered the former captives on rural back roads early yesterday, he said. They had been seized Tuesday in eastern Casanare state and taken across a river into neighboring Meta province before being freed Wednesday night.

Thirsty hedgehogs get tipsy on beer

LONDON — Britains wild hedgehogs are getting tipsy by availing themselves of tubs of beer that gardeners leave out overnight to trap slugs, an animal welfare group said.
Kay Bullen, a trustee of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, said her members are concerned because the creatures have been found to get so drunk that they fall asleep, forgetting to roll up into a protective ball.
They are attracted to the liquor by its sweet smell as they make their nocturnal visits to gardens.

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