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President Fidel Castro tripped and fell Wednesday night after leaving the stage at a graduation ceremony for arts instructors.

Speaking on state television less than a minute after his fall in the central city of Santa Clara, the 78-year-old Communist leader said he thought he had broken his knee "and maybe an arm . . . but I am all in one piece."

"I will do what is possible to recover as fast as possible, but as you can see I can still talk," he said. "Even if they put me in a cast, I can continue in my work."

An Associated Press photographer at the scene said Castro tripped on a concrete step after he finished walking down the stairs from the stage, then fell onto the ground on his right side, first hitting his knee and hip, and then his elbow and arm.

He was immediately surrounded by security agents and others who rushed to help him up. As he has grown older, Castro's knees have seemed more wobbly, his step less steady.

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