- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 24, 2007


Speeding train derails; 1 dead, 77 injured

LAMBRIGG, England — Investigators combed the wreckage of a high-speed train crash in remote countryside in northern England yesterday after one passenger died and 77 were injured when the London-to-Glasgow service derailed.

The Scotland-bound train — carrying 120 passengers and staff — crashed Friday night near the Scottish border, 270 miles northwest of London, in driving rain.

Virgin Trains spokesman Lee West said the cause of the accident was unknown, but confirmed the train was traveling at 95 mph at the time of the derailment.

Cumbria Ambulance Service spokeswoman Claudine Shacklock said at least 77 persons were injured.

Chief Superintendent Martyn Ripley of the British Transport Police said an 80-year-old woman died in a hospital as a result of her injuries. Officers are investigating whether the train derailed as the result of a switch failure on the track, he said. Switches are the mechanism used to adjust track settings and alter a train’s route. If left in the wrong position, the components can throw railroad cars off the track.


Prime minister elected party president

BUDAPEST — Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany was overwhelmingly elected president of the ruling Socialist party yesterday, a party spokesman announced after the organization’s national congress.

Mr. Gyurcsany was the only candidate for the top post and he won 89.15 percent of the vote, spokesman Istvan Nyako said.

Earlier yesterday, Mr. Gyurcsany threatened to resign as prime minister if he did not win at least 75 percent of the vote.

He said he needed to know that the party was behind him and his unpopular economic reforms at a time when voter support for the Socialists is at its lowest point in a decade.

Since winning re-election in April, Mr. Gyurcsany and his party have seen their ratings plummet after the government backtracked on promises to cut taxes and passed severe austerity measures to tackle the public deficit, the highest in the European Union.


Quake rattles Macedonian region

ATHENS — An earthquake measuring magnitude 4.3 shook the northern Greek region of Macedonia yesterday but caused no damage, the Athens Observatory’s Geodynamic Institute said.

The tremor near the archaeological site of Vergina, described by Greek seismologists as “weak,” was the second in a week, the Greek ANA news agency reported.

Greece is more affected by seismic activity than any other European country, registering half of all earthquakes on the Continent.


Pope urges defense of ‘right to life’

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI yesterday called on Catholics to fight “uncompromisingly” against “the many attacks on the right to life” such as abortion, eugenics and euthanasia.

Meeting participants at a congress of scientists and theologians, he said that Catholics should show “courageous conscientious objection” to all practices that put at risk “the value of human life.”

In a hard-hitting speech, the Roman Catholic Church leader warned that “attacks on the right to life across the world have expanded and multiplied, taking on new forms.”

He referred to “the ever-increasing pressure for the legalization of abortion in Latin America and developing countries” as well as abortion pills, “the development of population control” and “a new wave of eugenics in the name of individual welfare.”

He also decried legislation being proposed in some countries, including Italy, allowing for the legal union of homosexual couples.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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