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Monday, February 7, 2005; Page A17

Pope Blesses Crowd From Hospital Window

VATICAN CITY -- Pope John Paul II blessed the faithful from his hospital window Sunday, looking frail and speaking with difficulty but appearing determined to show he can still lead the Roman Catholic Church.

The 10-minute appearance at an open window gave the public its first glimpse of the 84-year-old pontiff since his hospitalization, which rekindled questions about his ability to carry on.

He looked rested and alert, and a message read for him by an Argentine archbishop standing beside him seemed designed to quell doubts about the pope's readiness and ability to lead the Church.

"In this hospital, in the middle of other sick people to whom my affectionate thoughts go out, I can continue to serve the church and the entire humanity," the message said.


MADRID -- Seventeen youths reportedly were found dead at a hostel in eastern Spain, apparently from unintentionally inhaling gas at a birthday party.

The youths spent Saturday night in a hostel in the hamlet of Todolella and apparently left open a canister of gas used for cooking or heating, Spain's Efe news agency reported. The youths were locals, Efe said, quoting the Interior Ministry office in the provincial capital, Castellon.

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgians mourned Prime Minister Zurab Zhvaniya, who was found dead early Thursday in a friend's apartment, as public concern mounted over the country's future and doubts about the official explanation of his death.

Thousands of mourners came to the capital's Holy Trinity Cathedral and filed past Zhvaniya's coffin, which was covered with a Georgian flag.

BANJA LUKA, Bosnia -- An armed Bosnian who snatched his 4-year-old daughter from her mother's apartment in Germany led police on a car chase through five European countries before surrendering.

Edin Kantarevic, armed with two pistols and a hand grenade, fired at police who tried to arrest him at a gas station in Germany, then drove through Austria, Slovenia and Croatia before giving himself up in his Bosnian home town of Novi Grad, police said.


BEIJING -- Scientists in China have developed a bird flu vaccine for poultry and mammals that can fend off the deadly virus and help stop its spread, the China Daily newspaper said on Monday.

CHENARI, Afghanistan -- Thick cloud cover and deep snow kept NATO helicopters, police and even a seasoned local hunter from reaching the wreckage of an Afghan commercial airliner three days after it hit a mountain, killing all 104 people on board.

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