- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 1, 2004


200 feared dead after ferry sinks

KINSHASA — About 200 people were missing and feared dead after a ferry was destroyed by fire on the Congo River in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo, U.N. officials in the country said yesterday.

A U.N. spokesman said aid workers had rescued 301 persons out of an estimated 500 passengers, many of whom scrambled to jump out of the boat as it was engulfed by flames.

He said the disaster happened last Monday, but the potential scale of the tragedy only became apparent Friday when officials finally reached survivors in the remote river town of Lukolela, 280 miles upstream from the capital Kinshasa.


Governing Council bars Al Jazeera

DUBAI — Iraq’s Governing Council yesterday banned Arabic television station Al Jazeera from covering council events for a month over remarks made during a phone-in show broadcast last month that were deemed insulting to prominent religious and national figures.

The U.S.-appointed council has in the past temporarily limited operations of Qatar-based Al Jazeera and its competitor Dubai-based Al Arabiya, accusing them of inciting violence.


Nursing home fire in Scotland kills 10

UDDINGSTON, Scotland — Fire broke out at a southern Scottish nursing home early yesterday, killing 10 residents and injuring seven in one of the deadliest disasters at a British nursing home since the government began regulating the industry in the 1960s.

At least 40 persons, many frail and ill, were in the RosePark residence just south of Glasgow when the small blaze broke out shortly before 5 a.m. The Strathclyde Fire Brigade said the fire appeared to have started in a cupboard.


Khatami ill, defers Cabinet meeting

TEHRAN — President Mohammed Khatami, suffering severe back pain, called off an emergency Cabinet meeting yesterday that was to deal with Iran’s deepening crisis over parliamentary elections.

Earlier in the day, the pro-reform president suggested his government would not go ahead with the Feb. 20 vote, which he called undemocratic because hard-line Islamic clerics have disqualified more than 2,400 liberal candidates.


Three foreign banks granted licenses

BAGHDAD — Iraq has granted the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp., Standard Chartered and the National Bank of Kuwait licenses to operate in Iraq, according to a Central Bank statement issued yesterday.

A separate statement said the Central Bank will lift controls on interest rates starting March 1 as part of its efforts to “modernize and develop Iraq’s financial system according to market principles.”


Government doubts reports of crash

LAGOS — Nigeria’s Aviation Ministry yesterday cast doubt on reports that a 25-to-35-seat passenger plane had crashed into the waters off the commercial capital on Friday.

Witnesses and at least one airport official in Lagos reported the crash on Friday, saying the plane had disappeared under the waves along a busy West African flight path that is also used by multinational oil companies to fly workers to and from facilities in Nigeria’s oil delta.

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