Briefs, February 18, 2013

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 February, 2013, 5:00am

Warning as cases of 'Sars' virus rise to 12

GENEVA - The World Health Organisation urged countries to be vigilant over the spread of a potentially fatal Sars-like virus after a new case in Britain brought the global number to 12. "Based on the current situation and available information, WHO encourages all Member States to continue their surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and to carefully review any unusual patterns," the UN health agency said. AFP


Republicans not to delay Chuck Hagel vote

WASHINGTON - Arizona Senator John McCain said that his Republican party colleagues will drop tactics to delay a vote on former Senator Chuck Hagel to be defence secretary and said President Barack Obama's nominee likely has sufficient support to be confirmed into this key post. He was talking to NBC's Meet the Press programme. Democrats, who control the Senate, have scheduled a vote for February 26. Reuters


L'Aquila dormitory collapse: four jailed

ROME - A court in L'Aquila, Italy, has convicted four people in connection with the collapse of a university dormitory during the 2009 earthquake in the Apennine mountain town. Eight students died in the collapse in the pre-dawn hours of April 6. The four who were convicted are Italian technicians accused of carrying out shoddy reconstruction work in 2000. Three were sentenced to four years in prison, while the fourth man received a 2-1/2-year sentence. AP


Horsemeat scam dents ready-meal appetite

LONDON - Almost a third of adults in Britain have stopped eating ready meals as a result of the horsemeat scandal, a survey found while 7 per cent have stopped eating meat altogether. The ComRes survey found that 31 per cent have given up eating ready meals as the discovery of equine flesh in products labelled beef spreads across Europe. AFP


Python hunt nets just 68 of the pests

MIAMI - Hundreds of hunters spent a month combing Florida's Everglades for Burmese pythons, in the end capturing and killing just 68 of the slithery, invasive reptiles. The longest was 4.4 metres, netting the hunter who brought it in a US$1,000 prize. Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also announced winners of two US$1,500 prizes for the hunters who killed the most Burmese pythons. AFP


37 killed in multiple bomb blasts in Iraq

BAGHDAD - Multiple car bombs exploded within minutes of each other as Iraqis were out shopping in and around Baghdad, killing at least 37 people and wounding more than 100 in overwhelmingly Shiite areas. AP