Micronesia Cholera Outbreak

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Thursday, May. 25, 2000

Micronesians ignore outbreak to greet Olympics

POHNPEI, Micronesia (AP) -- Hundreds of people ignored government warnings of a cholera outbreak, and ventured out to celebrate Wednesday's lighting of the Olympic flame in the Federated States of Micronesia.

At least two people have died and more than 100 others have been infected by the disease, which was spreading through the population of 130,000 on the cluster of tiny Pacific islands, the Australian Associated Press reported.

But amid a bombardment of government health warnings, hundreds of people went to the Pohnpei airport to witness the lighting of the first of 100 torches to be used in crossing the nation.

Since the May 10 lighting ceremony at Ancient Olympia, the torch traveled around Greece before being handed over to Sydney 2000 organizers.

The torch landed Monday in Guam to start a 17-day journey through 13 Pacific Island nations. On Tuesday the flame crossed Palau, where a traditional chief abandoned the official white torchbearer uniform in favor of a loincloth as he carried the fire along a jungle path.

The torch is scheduled to arrive June 8 in Australia to commence the 100-day countdown to the Sept. 15 opening ceremony in Sydney.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), May 25, 2000

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