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By Craig E. Blohm

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Hospitals were understaffed, and many physicians were away on their traditional August vacations when the heat wave struck. “The weakest are dropping like flies,” criticized French physician Patrick Pelloux. “They [government officials] dare to say these deaths are natural. ”33 French president Jacques Chirac, who was vacationing in Canada during the crisis, received much of the criticism. “Everything will be done to correct the insufficiencies that we noted in our health system,” Chirac said in a televised address.

The first Chinese news report of the new virus was published in January 2003 by a newspaper in the city of Heyuan. With typical disregard for the reality of the situation, the paper reported: There is no need for people to panic. m. 42 38 SARS and the Economy Despite this attempt to calm the citizens, people were indeed beginning to panic. On the streets of Beijing, in Hong Kong, and in countless other locales, people wore surgical masks as they went to work or school. Fear of SARS was spreading almost as fast as the disease itself, and it was A deadly outbreak of SARS in 2003 prompted fears of widespread contagion.

March 11, 2004, was a typical workday in Spain’s capital city. m. a cercanías, or commuter train, entered the Atocha station in downtown Madrid. As it pulled to a stop, three explosions rocked the train, destroying three cars and sending acrid smoke through the station. A few seconds later four more bombs blasted a train that was just about to enter the station. The scene at the Atocha station was one of confusion and panic. “People started to scream and run, some bumping into each other,” said 58 one bystander.

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