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Saturday, 23 June, 2001, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Castro collapses during speech

Cuban President Fidel Castro appeared to collapse on stage on Saturday during a televised speech to thousands of supporters.

Correspondents say Mr Castro - now 74-years-old - seemed to lose strength and become listless.

State television cameras quickly changed their focus away from the president to the crowds, as bodyguards helped Mr Castro away.

He returned several minutes later, assuring the audience he was fine.

"Let me rest, sleep a few hours," the Cuban leader told the crowd.

"Last night I did not sleep at all. I am fine. We will see you tonight."

Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told the crowd, gathered at the town of Cotorro on the outskirts of the capital Havana, that it was just a momentary fall caused by the strong heat.

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