World digest 04/12/05

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Hindu pilgrims drown after dam gates open

BHOPAL, India -- At least 58 Hindu pilgrims bathing in a central India river during a religious festival drowned when the gates of a nearby dam were opened, police said Monday. Nearly 100,000 Hindus had assembled Saturday night for an annual bathing festival, known as the "Bhootdi Aamavasya" -- or "Moonless Night," along the banks of the Narmada River in the town of Dharaji. Hindu rituals often include bathing in rivers seen as holy. But as the pilgrims were bathing, water was released through a dam about 15 miles away, police said.

Israeli museum honors Nazi who saved Jews

JERUSALEM -- A German military officer who became known as the "Nazi who saved Jews" was honored Monday by Israel's Holocaust memorial for rescuing hundreds of Jews from death camps during World War II. Maj. Karl Plagge was named "Righteous among the nations" in a posthumous ceremony at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem. Plagge served as a Nazi officer in Lithuania from 1941 to 1944, where he was in charge of a factory that employed hundreds of Jews. According to Yad Vashem, Plagge employed unqualified people to save them from deportation, and warned his workers in June 1944 that German troops were approaching and they would be handed over to the Nazis. The warning enabled some 200 people to escape and survive. Plagge died in 1957.

30 arrested in connection with Cairo bombing

CAIRO, Egypt -- Egyptian police have detained 30 people in last week's deadly bombing in a Cairo tourist bazaar, including the suspected bomber's mother, three brothers and 16 other relatives, prosecutors said. Police arrested the family members after identifying the body of the bomber, who died in the blast that killed two French tourists and an American and wounded 18 others Thursday. The suspect, Hassan Rafaat Ahmed Bashandi, was a student who became a religious extremist after his father's death, the Interior Ministry said.

Nine-story garment factory collapses

SAVAR, Bangladesh -- A nine-story garment factory collapsed after a boiler exploded early Monday, killing at least 21 people and trapping at least 200 others in the rubble, police and rescue workers said. At least 300 people were in the sweater factory at the time of the disaster in this industrial town 20 miles northwest of the capital, Dhaka, police said. Rescuers recovered four bodies and rescued at least 60 injured workers. But about 200 people were missing, said Selim Newaz Bhuiyan, a fire brigade official at the scene. Rescuers used welding machines to cut holes in the rubble to try to reach people or pump air to survivors.

Kyrgyzstan accepts president's resignation

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyzstan's parliament accepted ousted President Askar Akayev's resignation on Monday, ending a debate that has paralyzed the new leadership. The legislators voted 38-2 to "suspend Askar Akayev's presidential powers in connection with his offer of resignation." Legislators initially rejected Akayev's April 4 offer to step down, arguing it was too dignified an exit for the disgraced leader, who had fled the country after opposition supporters stormed his office on March 24. Parliament set July 10 as the date for presidential elections in this former Soviet republic.

Angolan ward combating deadly Marburg virus

LISBON, Portugal -- The Angolan health ministry may shut down the isolation ward of an Angolan hospital treating victims of the Ebola-like Marburg virus to stem the spread of the disease, an Angolan health official said Monday. A team of World Health Organization experts was visiting the ward to evaluate the situation and a decision could be reached in 48 to 72 hours, health official Filomena Wilson said. The rare Marburg virus has already killed 193 people out of a total 218 people infected. There is no vaccine.

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