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Archive for Sunday, September 23, 2001

World Briefs

September 23, 2001

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France: Death toll rises to 29 in chemical explosion

Rescue workers with search dogs scoured the ruins of a chemical fertilizer plant Saturday, looking for survivors of an explosion in which the death toll rose to 29 people and left at least 650 in the hospital.

With many houses damaged or destroyed for nearly a 1 1/2-mile radius around the leveled AZF chemical plant after Friday's apparently accidental blast in Toulouse, some 150 families were moving into gymnasiums-turned-shelters or homes volunteered by other residents.

Among the injured is Toulouse Mayor Philippe Douste-Blazy, described as "between life and death."

An unknown number of people were still missing by late afternoon Saturday, presumably buried amid tons of rubble by the explosion.

Belgium: ATMs begin dispensing euros across Europe

Belgian Finance Minister Didier Reynders became the first European to withdraw euro cash from an ATM.

"It works!" Reynders said Saturday, proudly displaying the 150 euros from a cash machine set up for a weekend meeting of European Union finance ministers in Liege.

"I will be keeping the receipt. I will be the first European with such a bank statement," he told reporters as he handed the cash to Belgian Bank President Guy Quaden.

The EU is introducing the euro notes and coins prior to them becoming legal tender Jan. 1.

TOKYO: Test confirm Asia's first case of mad cow

A test has shown that a Japanese animal slaughtered in August carried the mad cow disease, the Ministry of Agriculture said Saturday, confirming the first known case of the deadly brain-wasting illness in Asia.

The Japanese government had announced earlier this month that the 5-year-old dairy cow in central Japan might have suffered from the sickness and sent a tissue sample to experts in Britain for a conclusive diagnosis. The results came back late Friday, the ministry said.

It is still unknown how the cow contracted the disease, though investigators are focusing on animal feed.

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