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Mon, May 12, 2003

Russia Refuses Chinese Airliner Entry

Russians Cite SARS Worries

As the first case of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) was confirmed over the weekend in Russia, civil aviation authorities reportedly refused to allow passengers on board a China Northern Airlines flight to deplane at the airport in the far-eastern city of Khabarovsk. Instead, the aircraft was ordered to leave the gate and return to China Sunday. It went back to its point of origin, the Chinese city of Kharbin, without further incident.

At least 24 other SARS cases are suspected in Russia and the nation has instituted emergency procedures to keep the deadly virus from spreading. The RIA-Novosti news agency reports Russian Civil Aviation authorities have warned airlines that fly to and from China to stop selling tickets to passengers, and to stop all mail and cargo deliveries between the two countries until Chinese health officials can control the epidemic. So far, more than 500 people worldwide have died from SARS.



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