World briefs 9/17/02

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

One of three Canadian West Nile patients dies

TORONTO -- One of three men with confirmed cases of West Nile virus in Canada this year has died, a health official said Monday.

David Jensen, a spokesman for Ontario's health ministry, confirmed the unidentified patient's death, but couldn't say if the cause was the mosquito-borne virus that has killed dozens in the United States or other health problems the victim suffered.

Another six people in Canada are being tested for the illness. In 1999, an Ontario man died from the disease after contracting it in New York.

The three confirmed cases were all Ontario men, including a 60-year-old and a 70-year-old from the Peel Region west of Toronto. None of their names have been released.

General strike by rebels paralyzes most of Nepal

KATMANDU, Nepal -- A general strike called by Maoist rebels shut down most of this Himalayan kingdom Monday as security remained high to prevent guerilla attacks.

Armed soldiers and police officers patrolled the streets of the capital, Katmandu, where businesses, schools and public transportation were shut down for the day. Government workers walked to their offices.

The rebels ordered the strike in an apparent effort to show their strength by paralyzing daily life. They have been fighting since 1996 to overthrow Nepal's constitutional monarchy and impose communist rule based on the tenets of Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong.

Man accused of planning hijacking remains jailed

VAESTERAAS, Sweden -- A Swedish court ruled Monday that a man suspected of planning to hijack a London-bound airliner should remain in custody to give prosecutors more time to prepare charges.

The chief prosecutor said investigators had still not determined why Kerim Chatty had a gun with him as he boarded a flight to London in August.

"Hopefully, we will find a way to establish why he tried to bring a gun on the plane. That reason is yet to be established," chief prosecutor Thomas Haeggstroem told reporters after Monday's hearing.

Prosecutors said they needed more time because of a large number of witnesses they must hear and other factors.

The district court in Vaesteraas, 60 miles northwest of Stockholm, ordered Chatty to remain jailed until Sept. 30 on preliminary charges of planning to hijack a plane and illegal possession of a weapon.

Opposition pledges to stabilize Macedonia

SKOPJE, Macedonia -- Opposition parties who capitalized on Macedonia's weariness with ethnic violence to win the first post-rebellion elections promised Monday to stabilize the Balkan country.

Christian Orthodox Macedonians unhappy with the current ruling VMRO party favored the Together for Macedonia coalition led by a former communist, Branko Crvenkovski, who was expected to become the country's new prime minister.

"Our main aim will be to solve the economic crisis and back peace and stability in the whole Macedonian territory," Together for Macedonia spokesman Jovan Manasievski said.

Pilgrim bus crashes in Argentina, kills 49

CATAMARCA, Argentina -- A bus carrying Roman Catholic pilgrims plunged into a heavily forested gorge in western Argentina, killing 49 people and injuring 27 others, authorities said Monday.

Police were investigating survivor accounts that the bus lost its brakes before tumbling more than 200 feet Sunday night into the ravine, where it remained hanging from trees as workers struggled to rescue survivors.

The accident took place in Catamarca province bordering the Andes mountains in a remote area some 600 miles northwest of Buenos Aires.

The bus, which was returning to the neighboring province of Tucuman after a visit to a religious shrine, was carrying 72 people, 20 more than its allowed capacity, police said. Several of the victims were children, whose bodies were taken to a morgue, according to officials.

-- From wire reports

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