PESHAWAR, Pakistan

Polio vaccinations halted after worker shot dead

Pakistani authorities suspended a four-day polio vaccination program Tuesday after gunmen shot dead a female polio worker and wounded another, officials said, dealing another setback to the U.N.-backed campaign to eradicate the crippling disease from Pakistan.

The two women were attacked Tuesday in Kaggawala village on the outskirts of the main northwest city of Peshawar, police officer Mushtaq Khan said.

Senior police official Shafiullah Khan said two attackers on foot fired a pistol at the workers. He said police have started a search operation.

Government official Habibullah Arif said the polio vaccination drive in the northwestern city of Peshawar and nearby villages has been suspended.


Global health fears grow as virus claims new victim

A French patient infected with a deadly new respiratory virus related to SARS died Tuesday of the disease, which has killed half the people known to be infected and alarmed global health officials.

The novel coronavirus is related to SARS, which killed some 800 people in a global epidemic in 2003. Dr. Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organization, singled out the illness in a speech Monday in Geneva.

“We understand too little about this virus when viewed against the magnitude of its potential threat,” Chan said at the annual WHO meeting. “We do not know where the virus hides in nature. We do not know how people are getting infected. Until we answer these questions, we are empty-handed when it comes to prevention. These are alarm bells. And we must respond.”

WHO said in an update earlier this month that 20 of the 40 confirmed cases of the disease have ended in death.


Freight train strikes truck and derails; one injured

A CSX freight train derailed Tuesday afternoon outside Baltimore, damaging nearby buildings, shutting down US Route 40 and causing a loud explosion that could be felt several miles away.

Authorities in Baltimore County said the 15-car train struck a commercial truck near the 7500 block of Lake Drive, veering off the tracks near an industrial park. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said the driver of the trailer was extricated and taken to Maryland Shock Trauma center in serious but stable condition..

Only two people were aboard the train, and they were uninjured, Armacost said.


Senator suspects utility of misconduct, seeks probe

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer said Tuesday that she has lost confidence in the California utility that operates the troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant, as she called for a federal probe into an equipment swap that eventually led to a radiation leak.

The chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee accused Southern California Edison of dispensing “gobbledygook” about a 2004 internal letter that Boxer believes reveals possible criminal misconduct within the company.

Boxer’s statements reflect mounting tension around Edison’s proposal to restart one of two reactors at the seaside plant.


— From news service reports


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