World digest 05/11/02

Saturday, May 11, 2002

Train derails north of London, killing seven

POTTERS BAR, England -- A high-speed train derailed Friday on its way through a station north of London and one car crashed onto the platform, scattering waiting passengers. Seven people were killed in the accident and nine seriously injured, officials said.

At least 45 others suffered less severe injuries, British Transport police said, in this sixth fatal accident since 1997 on Britain's widely criticized rail network.

The northbound London-to-King's Lynn train, carrying 151 people, went off the tracks in Potters Bar, a quiet suburban town 12 miles north of London.

Inspector Philip Trendall of the British Transport Police said it was too early to speculate on the cause of the crash.

Liberia deploys fighters in battle against rebels

MONROVIA, Liberia -- Liberia poured hundreds of fighters Friday into a battle for a central base of President Charles Taylor, saying rebels had taken control of at least part of the town.

The United Nations requested access to the battle zone to check on the fate of some of tens of thousands of fleeing civilians.

In Monrovia, the West African nation's capital, civilians escaping the fighting at Gbarnga reported looting by AK-47-toting combatants -- including sacking of a now-evacuated hospital that was overrun by fighting Thursday and Friday.

Fighters of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy attacked Gbarnga at dawn Thursday, bypassing other towns to strike directly at what Liberia's government called the "spiritual headquarters" of Taylor's supporters.

Taylor used the town as a base during the country's 1989-1996 civil war.

Indian firefighters strike after mobs attack them

AHMADABAD, India -- Hindu and Muslim firefighters who together had battled fires set by religious rioters in western India staged a strike Friday after they became the latest target of mob violence.

The Ahmadabad Fire Brigade stopped fighting blazes for 12 hours after Hindus attacked the sons of two firefighters who were visiting a Hindu neighborhood. One, an 18-year-old Muslim, was stabbed; his 20-year-old Hindu friend was beaten.

When an ambulance arrived to take the youths to the hospital, the mob beat the three firefighters in the ambulance, overturned the vehicle and set it on fire.

There are only 300 firefighters in Ahmadabad, a city of nearly 4 million people that has been rocked by India's worst religious violence in a decade.

Firefighters called off the strike after 12 hours following appeals from Muslims in relief camps.

Sailboat capsizes off Bahamas; 12 dead

NASSAU, Bahamas -- A 35-foot sailboat overloaded with about 100 Haitian refugees capsized Friday in rough seas off the Bahamas, leaving 12 dead and more than a dozen missing, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

Divers from the Bahamas Defense Force found 6 of the 14 victims trapped in the hold of the boat.

The boat appeared to have tipped as occupants shifted to one side as a Coast Guard vessel came alongside, said Luis Diaz, a spokesman in Miami.

The accident took place about 6 miles west of Great Inagua, the southernmost island in the Bahamas chain and the third largest. Inagua is less than 60 miles from Haiti's north coast.

Craig Stubbs of the Great Inagua Police said the dead and the survivors would be sent back to Haiti. More than 1,500 fleeing Haitians have been returned home from the Bahamas this year, and up to 6,000 were repatriated last year.

-- From wire reports

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