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Archive for Monday, May 13, 2002

World Briefs

May 13, 2002

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Kazakhstan: Roof collapses at cosmodrome

The roof of a 260-foot-tall hangar at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Russia's main rocket launching site, collapsed Sunday, trapping eight workers in the debris, officials said.

An eight-man construction crew was on the roof of the cosmodrome's main hangar when it caved in, said Kairzhan Turezhanov, a spokesman for the Kazakh Emergency Situations Committee. Russia rents the facility from Kazakhstan for its space program.

It was unlikely any of the workers could have survived the fall, Sergei Gorbunov, a spokesman for the Russian space agency, told RTR state television.

The hangar, which served as a storage facility for the remnants of a scrapped shuttle program, was cordoned off because of fears that the walls could collapse.

London: Assisted-suicide advocate dies

Diane Pretty, a terminally ill woman who fought an unsuccessful legal battle for the right to have her husband help her commit suicide, has died, her family said Sunday. She was 43.

Pretty, who suffered from motor neuron disease, died Saturday at a hospice near her home in Luton, in central England, her husband, Brian, said. She had been experiencing breathing difficulties for several days.

Pretty, whose illness left her paralyzed from the neck down and confined to a wheelchair, fought unsuccessfully in British and European courts for her husband to be guaranteed immunity from prosecution if he helped her die. Suicide is legal in Britain, but helping someone else commit suicide is a crime punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Pretty had said she wanted the right to take her own life because she feared a slow and painful death from asphyxiation. On Sunday, Brian Pretty said his wife "had to go through the one thing she had foreseen and was afraid of and there was nothing I could do to help."

Cyprus: Exiled Palestinians restricted for security

Palestinian militants flown to Cyprus to end a stalemate with Israel are being confined to a beach-front hotel in Larnaca for their own safety, the Palestinian envoy to this Mediterranean island said Sunday.

The 13 Palestinians have been described as free men, not prisoners or detainees, in Cyprus awaiting a European agreement on a final destination.

But the 12 at the hotel the 13th was hospitalized in Larnaca with a broken leg caused by an Israeli bullet have been let off the top floor only for meals on the second floor dining room. Other than official visitors, Cypriot police have allowed few to see them since they arrived Friday aboard a British military plane.

London: Rail crash ruled freak accident

Safety officials were investigating Sunday whether vandalism or poor maintenance caused a rail crash that killed seven people and injured more than 70.

As grieving relatives visited the crash site at Potters Bar station north of London and prayers were said in local churches, the government insisted the tragedy was a freak incident that didn't affect the rest of Britain's rail network.

Rail authorities believe Friday's accident at the suburban station 12 miles north of London was caused when the train passed over a faulty set of points a switching mechanism that diverts trains onto different tracks.

India: Sabotage suspected in train derailment

An express train derailed Sunday in northern India, killing 12 people and injuring at least 70. Railroad authorities said the cause may have been sabotage.

Thirteen cars of the Shramjeevi Express went off the tracks near Lucknow, 220 miles east of New Delhi. The 24-car train was bound for Patna, the capital of eastern Bihar state.

"Preliminary investigations point to the possibility of sabotage," said Devender Singh Sandhu, a Northern Railways spokesman.

Sandhu said metal pieces used to join the tracks were found near the scene and appeared to have been removed. He would not say whether there were any suspects.

Sudan: Hundreds said killed by rebels from Uganda

Ugandan rebels killed hundreds of people in southern Sudan as they retreated from the advancing Ugandan army, an official from Sudan's Roman Catholic Church said Sunday.

The civilians were killed Wednesday after Ugandan soldiers pushed Lord's Resistance Army rebels from the village of Katire, about 40 miles north of the Ugandan border, said Jervasio Akot, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Torit, Sudan.

The rebels retreated to the surrounding mountains where they burned six villages, killing at least 470 people, said Akot, who works in Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya. The diocese is based in the Eastern Equatoria region of southern Sudan, where the fighting took place.

Russia: Chechen capital sealed by troops

Russian troops searched for rebels and their sympathizers on Sunday in the Chechen capital, sealing off the city and preventing traffic from entering or leaving, an official in the Kremlin-backed Chechen administration said.

Reinforcements were brought to Grozny to assist in the large-scale security sweep, in which more than 100 people suspected of assisting the rebels were detained, the official said on condition of anonymity.

Human rights groups and foreign governments watching Russia's handling of the breakaway province have criticized the sweeps for alleged abuses. Chechen civilians have accused servicemen of carrying out arbitrary detentions, looting and even killing during the checks.

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