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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 October, 2004, 14:49 GMT 15:49 UK
Castro breaks knee, arm in fall
Castro falls to the floor before a rally in Havana
Television cameras captured the moment the Cuban leader fell
Fidel Castro, Cuba's 78-year-old leader, has fractured a knee and an arm after he tripped and fell at the end of a televised public speech.

The government confirmed the injuries in a statement, adding: "His general health is good, and spirits excellent."

The tumble came at the end of a speech in Santa Clara, and Mr Castro later appeared to say he was "in one piece".

There is frequent speculation on the island about the health of Mr Castro, who fainted at a rally three years ago.

A medical examination on Thursday confirmed Mr Castro had broken his left knee and suffered a hairline fracture on his upper right arm, the Associated Press quoted the official statement as saying.

'Distressed' audience

Mr Castro was sweating profusely as he sought to reassure his supporters shortly after his fall on Wednesday night.

Fidel Castro immediately after his fall in Santa Clara
Aides rushed to help Castro
"Please excuse me for having fallen... just so no-one speculates, I may have a fracture in my knee and maybe one in my arm," he said.

"I can speak even if they put me in plaster and I can continue to work," he added.

The Cuban revolutionary leader said he preferred to leave the city in a jeep rather than an ambulance and urged people to continue their programme of events.

Mr Castro had been speaking at the mausoleum where the remains of fellow revolutionary Che Guevara are kept.

He delivered a one-hour speech to mark a graduation of arts instructors.

When he fell, some of those among the audience of 30,000 broke into tears, a Reuters correspondent reports.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch a video of Castro's fall



FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
SABC Castro breaks knee in public fall - 16 hrs ago
ABCNEWS.com Castro Says Still in Full Control Despite Fall - 18 hrs ago
Reuters UK Castro says still in full control after fall - 19 hrs ago
CBS News Fidel Acts Fit As A Fiddle - 19 hrs ago
New York Times Castro Says He's Working Despite Injuries - 20 hrs ago
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SEE ALSO:
EU ponders softer stance on Cuba
19 Oct 04  |  Americas
Spain and Cuba in expulsion row
17 Oct 04  |  Americas
Cuban dissident economist freed
23 Jul 04  |  Americas
Country profile: Cuba
02 Jul 04  |  Country profiles


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