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French tourists hurt in Cuba bus crash

Forty-one French tourists and two locals were injured in Cuba Monday when the bus they were traveling in hit another vehicle, media reports and diplomatic sources said. Seven are said to be in a serious condition.

French tourists hurt in Cuba bus crash
The bus in which a group of French tourists were travelling when it crashed in Cuba. Screengrab: Cuban television

In addition to the tourists, the Cuban driver and tour guide were also hurt, said the news agency Prensa Latina.

Seven of the French nationals were in serious condition after the accident in central Cuba following a visit to a monument to Che Guevara, said an official at the French Embassy.

All 43 injured were taken to a hospital in Cienfuegos, 250 kilometers (160 miles) southeast of Havana, the diplomat said.

The bus struck a vehicle traveling in the same direction as the bus was returning to Varadero from Santa Clara, where the tourists had visited a monument that holds the remains of the Argentine-Cuban guerrilla fighter.

Cuban television said the bus was dragged several meters and locals used a crane to lift the bus and help the injured, it reported.

The accident came during the busy season for Cuban tourism, in which thousands of visitors from Europe, Canada and Latin America flock to the island.

Tourism is one of Cuba's main source of revenue. The government has forecast it will receive around three million visitors this year.

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HOLLANDE

Hollande hails Castro as ‘great figure of 20th century’

French President Francois Hollande on Saturday called for the embargo that "punishes" Cuba to be "lifted definitively" following the death of Fidel Castro.

Hollande hails Castro as 'great figure of 20th century'
Cuban President Fidel Castro studies a bottle of Chablis during a 1995 visit to France. Photo: Pascal George/AFP
“I want, on the occasion of the death of Fidel Castro to again insist that the embargo that punishes Cuba should be lifted definitively (and that) Cuba should be fully regarded as a partner in the international community,” said Hollande during a summit in Madagascar.
   
Instituted in the early 1960s, the trade embargo was designed to starve Castro's regime of US currency. Despite the recent restoration of diplomatic  relations between Washington and Havana, the embargo remains largely in place today.
   
“France has always seen Cuba as a partner,” said Hollande, who in May 2015 was the first western head of state to visit the island nation after the thaw in relations between the US and Cuba in December 2014.
   
“Even if I have repeatedly denounced human rights abuses in Cuba, I have always believed that the embargo was an unacceptable, unilateral decision,” he said. “Fidel Castro was a great figure of the 20th century. He aroused much hope with the Cuban revolution. There have also been disappointments.”
 
 
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