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Two trucks crashed head-on today in a tunnel through the Alps, sparking explosions and blasting heat and smoke through the passage. At least nine people were killed, police said.

The crash in the 10-mile Gotthard Tunnel -- the world's second-longest road tunnel and a main north-south European route through the Alps -- occurred at 9:45 a.m. about a mile from the southern exit, police said.

Both trucks caught fire, quickly filling the tunnel with dense black smoke. Explosions could be heard, and heat and smoke prevented rescue workers at the southern end from reaching the fire for several hours, police said.

Traffic in the Gotthard Tunnel had increased since 1999 when a fire closed the Mont Blanc Tunnel. A burning truck turned that tunnel into a flaming deathtrap, killing 39 people.

Health officials issue apology
to Harrison and his attacker

LONDON (AP) -- Health officials apologized Tuesday to former Beatle George Harrison and the schizophrenic man who stabbed him as a new report disclosed major lapses in the attacker's treatment before he broke into Harrison's home.

The sharply critical report said workers at the British hospitals and clinics that saw Michael Abram failed to assess and treat him properly. It criticized staff members who discharged him from one hospital about a month before the attack, leaving him to walk home alone early in the morning, and said he should have been put in a treatment program 18 months earlier.

"We wish to make a full and formal apology to George Harrison and his family and to Michael Abram and his family for the failures in Mr. Abram's care and treatment prior to the appalling events of December 1999," said the statement, issued by the St. Helens & Knowsley Health Authority and the Hospitals National Health Service Trust.

Abram was accused by prosecutors of breaking into Harrison's home in Henley-on-Thames, west of London, and stabbing him repeatedly, puncturing a lung.

He also was charged with attacking Harrison's wife, Olivia, when she came to her husband's defense.

Croatian health minister
resigns over dialysis deaths

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) -- Croatia's prime minister Tuesday accepted the health minister's resignation over the deaths of 23 dialysis patients but said products made by a U.S. company were most likely to blame.

Ana Stavljenic-Rukavina offered her resignation Oct. 14, a day after her ministry acknowledged the deaths over two days in hospitals across Croatia.

Stavljenic-Rukavina and other government officials blamed filters, or dialyzers, produced by Baxter International of Chicago, for the deaths.

At the time, Prime Minister Ivica Racan rejected Stavljenic-Rukavina's resignation, but the government accepted it Tuesday "as a moral act," Racan said.

He said further investigation again showed that "most probably, the Baxter-made dialyzers caused the death" of the patients.

In accusing the U.S. firm, Croatian officials said that all 23 patients who died were treated with the Baxter-made filters and that others survived when their filters were replaced with other brands.

While calling the accusations premature, Baxter last week issued a worldwide recall of the type of filters used in Croatia.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also has opened an investigation into the deaths, along with Spanish authorities.

Investigators search deck
of ill-fated submarine Kursk

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's top prosecutor led investigators Tuesday onto the deck of the ill-fated nuclear submarine Kursk, hoping to find new clues to what caused the vessel to explode and sink more than a year ago.

With the Kursk fully out of the water, Prosecutor-General Vladimir Ustinov, top navy officials and a team of about 40 investigators observed a moment of silence before stepping onto the sub's deck. Navy officials have said they expect to find only 30 to 40 bodies when they enter the submarine, with the rest likely pulverized by the explosion. Twelve bodies were recovered earlier by divers.

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