-- An airline official said today his company would pay $135,000 to the relatives of each of the 229 victims of the Swissair crash off Nova Scotia Sept. 2. SAirGroup Chief Executive Philippe Bruggisser said that 25 families had accepted the offer so far.
The cause of the crash of the MD-11 remains unknown. But as a voluntary precaution, Swissair in October shut off a high-tech entertainment system after investigators found evidence of heat-damaged wires.
-- Doctors said Boris Yeltsin, 68, was recovering well from a recurring ulcer but indicated the Russian leader was likely to remain hospitalized for another week, Interfax news agency said today. Yeltsin was readmitted Saturday with stomach pains.
Turkey will allow Norwegian delegates to attend the trial of jailed Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan after turning down other international requests, a member of Norway's Parliament said today.
Lars Rise, of the Christian People's Party, which is the biggest in the three-party centrist coalition, said he had been personally invited by the vice president of Turkey's national assembly, Uluc Gurkan, to bring a parliamentary delegation.
Ocalan was captured in Kenya by Turkish special forces last month.
By the numbers
-- North Korea denied today that millions of its people have died of starvation and famine-related illnesses in the past four years. After visiting North Korea in August, a U.S. congressional delegation said up to 2 million people may have died of starvation and famine-related illnesses since 1995.
South Korean intelligence officials said last month that the North's population had decreased by 3 million, to 22 million, in the past four years because of hunger.
The North Korean spokesman said the country's last census, in 1993, showed a population of 21 million and that the figure would increase to 23 million next year. Food shortages caused by inefficient communal-farming techniques were aggravated by years of disastrous weather.
-- HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has spread to every province in Vietnam and infected 12,306 people, an official said today. The official from the National AIDS Protection Committee said 2,374 people had AIDS, acquired immune deficiency syndrome. A total of 1,249 people have died from the disease.
Today in history
-- In 1498, Vasco da Gama landed at what is now Mozambique, on his travels to India.
-- In 1810, Sweden became the first country to appoint an ombudsman, Lars August Mannerheim.
-- In 1810, Frederic-Francois (Fryderyk Franciszek) Chopin, Polish composer, was born.
-- In 1896, Italian forces were defeated by the Ethiopians at the Battle of Adowa, dealing a blow to Italian hopes of building an empire in Africa.
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