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Lebanese PM takes back claim of 40 dead
08/07/2006
Says only one dead as result of Israeli airstrike after claiming 40 were killed.
Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said only one person died in an Israeli air raid on the southern village of Houla, reversing his earlier claim that 40 had died. Saniora reportedly broke into tears during opening remarks to Arab League foreign ministers, saying that 40 had died in Houla. A security official later said there were about 30 people trapped and the death toll was not known. The security official, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to give information to reporters, said rescue workers at the scene were trying to reach survivors who were calling out for help. The official said that he believed that among those trapped, more were alive than dead. "There are positive signs from the what we can hear from survivors that the number of dead may be lower than we thought," the official said. Local television stations reported rescuers had pulled out 65 survivors, including 35 children, from under the rubble. Saniora was nearly sobbing as he appealed to fellow Arab states to help a nation "stunned" by a devastating Israeli onslaught since July 12 that has targeted civilians and infrastructure. Saniora disclosed the attack in the village, where heavy ground fighting between Hezbollah guerrillas and Israeli has been raging in recent days, in an impassioned opening address to a hastily convened meeting of Arab foreign ministers who met in Beirut to show solidarity with Lebanon's government and people who have been under intensive Israeli airstrikes since July 12.
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