Two more SARS deaths in Canada; Asia total up

Monday, June 9, 2003

TORONTO -- Two more SARS deaths were reported in Toronto on Sunday after a second outbreak of the illness gripped Canada's largest city, raising the virus' death toll here to 33.

The latest outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome is mostly under control in Toronto, but officials have warned some patients in critical condition could die instead of recovering.

The two latest fatalities were a 66-year-old woman and a 63-year-old man, according to Ontario health officials. Both died Saturday.

SARS has killed at least 783 people and infected more than 8,300 in two dozen countries worldwide, but officials in Asia -- the hardest-hit region -- say declining numbers of deaths and new cases are evidence the crisis is easing.

Strong earthquake jolts Taiwan; no casualties

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A strong earthquake struck off the northeast Taiwan coast Monday and swayed buildings in the capital more than 80 miles away, but no damage or injuries were immediately reported.

The magnitude 6.3 tremor was centered at sea, 15 miles east of the northeastern coastal town of Ilan, the Central Weather Bureau said.

Ilan is about 72 miles southeast of the capital of Taipei.

The quake, which the weather bureau said jolted the central and northern parts of the island, lasted for more than 30 seconds and swayed buildings in the capital.

Temblors frequently shake Taiwan, but most cause little or no damage.

Liberia rebels make second push into capital

MONROVIA, Liberia -- Liberians raised their voices in prayer to a backdrop of crackling weapons fire and mortars, appealing for peace Sunday as rebels again pushed into the besieged capital of this West African nation.

President Charles Taylor's ragtag soldiers rushed to the decaying city's west side while thousands of trapped civilians took flight for the second time in three days.

Soldiers -- in green uniforms and jeans and T-shirts, at times with empty beer bottles spilling out of their pickups -- claimed late Sunday to have beaten back the latest rebel advance, driving insurgents deeper back into the swamps lying behind the St. Paul's river bridge marking the city's western entrance.

U.S. Marines armed with M-16s and wearing bulletproof vests without shirts in the steamy rainy-season heat staked out sandbag bunkers on top of the U.S. Embassy, readying for an expected helicopter evacuation of Westerners.

Coup attempt reported in West African nation

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania -- Mauritania's pro-Western leader battled a coup attempt Sunday, as small arms and tank fire erupted near the presidential palace in the Arab-dominated west African nation.

The army chief was reported killed in the fighting, which followed a government crackdown on Islamic activists that started with the U.S.-led Iraq war. The insurgents appeared to include members of both the army and air force.

The clashes subsided late Sunday but it was unclear who controlled the capital.

The whereabouts of President Maaouya Sid'Ahmed Ould Taya remained unknown.

-- From wire reports

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