World digest 04/14/03

Monday, April 14, 2003

Five more SARS deaths reported in Hong Kong

HONG KONG -- Five more patients with severe acute respiratory syndrome have died in Hong Kong, including four who had been in good health before falling ill and failed to respond to treatment that has worked for others, health officials said Sunday.

"Their situation fluctuated wildly when they were admitted into hospitals," said Dr. Liu Shao-haei, a senior executive of Hong Kong's Hospital Authority, speaking about the five latest victims.

The fitter patients, aged 40, 41, 45 and 52, "just kept deteriorating" despite being placed under intensive care, Liu said. The fifth victim, a 66-year-old woman, had other chronic problems.

Three other SARS fatalities were reported Sunday in Singapore, bringing the global death toll to well over 100. About 3,000 people worldwide have been infected, with most of the cases in Asia.

Fugitives at large; others arrested in USS Cole case

SAN'A, Yemen -- The massive manhunt for 10 escaped suspects in the fatal USS Cole bombing has led to the arrests of more than a dozen people with links to the men, but the fugitives remained at large Sunday.

Yemeni Islamists and relatives of the fugitives have been taken into custody, officials close to the investigation said Sunday.

The 10 men escaped Friday from the tightly guarded intelligence prison building in Aden, dealing a major blow to the investigation into the Oct. 12, 2000, attack that killed 17 U.S. sailors. The United States has said the al-Qaida terror network was responsible.

Afghan car blast kills four apparent plotters

KABUL, Afghanistan -- A car packed with explosives exploded in eastern Afghanistan, killing four people who apparently were planning a terrorist attack, an Afghan military official said Sunday.

The blast late Saturday in Karwan Sarui, four miles east of the town of Khost, killed two unidentified Pakistani nationals and one man from Yemen, said Khial Baz, a regional commander.

Baz said the fourth man was Bacha Malkhui, a former intelligence officer for the deposed Taliban government. He was driving the car.

"They were planning some kind of terrorist attack, but we don't know what their target was," Baz told The Associated Press by telephone from Khost.

Security forces had been searching for Malkhui, after he was accused of firing two rockets toward a U.S. base in the same area a month ago, Baz said.

Death toll rises to 16 in Bangladesh ferry disaster

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- Searchers recovered the bodies of several more victims Sunday from a Bangladesh ferry disaster, bringing the death toll to 16, police said.

Scores of passengers were still considered missing after the double-decker ferry capsized on the Nagchinni River during a storm in northern Bangladesh on Saturday.

About half of the estimated 200 people aboard swam ashore or were rescued by local fishermen, witnesses said.

Maltese leader claims win, will sign EU treaty

VALLETTA, Malta -- Maltese Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami claimed victory Sunday in parliamentary elections and said his nation will go ahead with European Union membership after decades of neutrality.

Nationalist Party officials based their claims on a sample of about 20 percent of votes cast on the Mediterranean archipelago, which is closer to Africa than to Europe.

Fenech Adami said he will go to Athens Wednesday to sign the EU accession treaty.

Opposition leader Alfred Sant, a former Labor Party premier who had vowed not to sign an EU membership treaty if he won, conceded defeat.

-- From wire reports

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