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In brief: At least 100 Hindu pilgrims killed in night-time stampede after car crash

A stampede sparked by a night-time road accident in dense forest has killed more than 100 Hindu pilgrims in the southern Indian state of Kerala, police and officials said yesterday.

The state's deputy general of police said that 102 people were killed last Friday night.

Hundreds of thousands had gathered at the hilltop shrine of Sabarimala last Friday evening. A bus carrying pilgrims back to the neighbouring state of Karnataka collided with a jeep and went out of control, crushing people who were walking nearby, Kerala temple affairs minister Ramachandran Kadannappally said. Panicked pilgrims rushed forward, triggering a stampede.

Seven people injured in hospital attack

A man was arrested after an attack yesterday at a British hospital that left two staff members and five patients injured. The two female employees received minor injuries as they restrained the 22-year-old man who was being treated at Newham General Hospital in Plaistow, east London. He is thought to have mental health problems.

One of the victims, a woman in her 60s, suffered serious head injuries in the attack but is now in a stable condition, the Metropolitan Police said.

Emergency aid fast-tracked in Brazil

The Brazilian government has begun to fast-track emergency funds to areas of Rio de Janeiro devastated by mudslides and floods as the death toll climbed to 548 by the early hours of yesterday.

President Dilma Rousseff has released e43m to help the areas affected, of which half should be available to state and local authorities by tomorrow.

The money comes from a e350m fund announced by President Rousseff last week and the initial sum will be used for priorities such as buying medicines and foodstuffs.

The announcements of new funds came amid fears that further steady rainfall could cause new landslides.

US eases travel restrictions to Cuba

US President Barack Obama plans to loosen Cuban travel policy to allow students and church groups to go to the communist country, the administration has announced.

Students seeking academic credit and churches travelling for religious purposes will be able to go to Cuba.

The plan will also let any American send as much as $500 (€375) every three months to Cuban citizens who are not part of the Castro administration and are not members of the Communist Party.

Reagan 'had Alzheimer's as president'

Ronald Reagan's son suggests in a new book that his father suffered from the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease while he was still in the White House.

The revelations come in Ron Reagan's book My Father at 100: A Memoir. Reagan's son writes that he believes his father would have left office before his second term ended in 1989 had the disease been diagnosed then.

Ronald Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1994, five years after leaving office. The popular Republican president died in 2004 at age 93 from complications of the disease.

Voting ends in southern Sudan poll

Southern Sudan's week-long referendum on independence entered its final day yesterday, as a top official of President Umar al-Bashir's ruling party said he expected the oil-rich region to secede and form Africa's newest nation.

More than 2,600 voting centres were scheduled to close yesterday. Officials from the commission that organised the referendum said turnout had passed the 60 per cent threshold needed for a valid result.

Gabor recovering from life-saving op

Doctors are keeping a close watch on Zsa Zsa Gabor who was resting comfortably as she recovered from surgery to amputate her right leg -- an operation that doctors said was necessary to save her life, according to her publicist. "The surgery went well, however, she is in frail health so we will continue to monitor her closely," said Dr David Rigberg, of Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Centre.

Three Anglican bishops join Rome

Three former Anglican bishops have been ordained as Catholic priests under the terms of a new Vatican system. The three have become the first to take advantage of a programme announced by the Vatican in 2009 to accommodate Anglicans unhappy about the direction their church is taking.

The three men ordained at a crowded Westminster Cathedral ceremony yesterday morning are former bishops Keith Newton, Andrew Burnham and John Broadhurst.

Sunday Independent