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Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 04:44 GMT 05:44 UK
Asteroid on collision course
There are some alarming, if slightly tongue-in-cheek, headlines to accompany the announcement by scientists that a newly-discovered giant asteroid is speeding towards Earth and could hit the planet within 20 years.

The world ends on 1 February 2019, declares the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Express .

The end is nigh, proclaims the Daily Mail.

For the Times, the rock of doom is coming - or as the Daily Mirror describes it, the Armageddon asteroid.

There is ample reassurance for anxious readers that astronomers are working on ways to divert the asteroid from a possible collision with the planet.

The Sun says not to worry, it will probably miss.

Nevertheless, the Times points out that at the moment, an impact is 28 times more likely than a player winning the National Lottery.

The Express meanwhile, finds a cheering thought amid the gloom: forget the pension and take that dream holiday.

'Near miss' over England

More familiar objects in the sky are the subject of the main story in the Mail.

It points out that the near-miss by two BMI British Midland airliners over south-east England happened on the same day that the government unveiled plans for airport and runway expansions.

Security 'loopholes'

The Express says it has exposed breaches in the security arrangements for VIPs at the opening today of the Commonwealth Games.

Its lead report describes how one of its journalists was given a job as a security guard at the City of Manchester Stadium after completing a simple application and without any background checks.

This, the paper says, gave him access to restricted areas.

Air strike

The Independent reports that the Israeli air strike on Gaza on Tuesday which killed nine Palestinian children may have wrecked an imminent commitment by militants to end suicide bombings.

It says diplomatic sources have confirmed that an American and European Union team was finalising the terms of an Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire when Israel launched its attack

Intruder

A number of reports quoting unidentified friends of Jemima Khan suggest that the raid on her London home earlier this week was a well-planned operation possibly connected to the political activities of her husband, the former Pakistani cricket captain, Imran Khan.

According to the Mail, the intruder entered the house with a key.

The Express says Mrs Khan has told friends the raider seemed to know his way round the house.

Hospital league tables

Many of the papers publish the latest league tables measuring the performance of hospitals in England.

The Times visits two hospitals in Portsmouth given a zero star rating.

It highlights a discrepancy between the government tables and an independent study which awarded the hospitals high star ratings.

The difference, it says, is that the government's ratings measure the quantity rather than quality of care; and managerial rather than clinical competence.

Britain's most picturesque views

The view described as Britain's most scenic in a competition by Country Life magazine is widely featured - the setting of Salisbury Cathedral surrounded by lush meadows.

Buttermere lake, in the Cumbrian mountains, was judged second; and the Chesil Bank shingle beach in Dorset came third.

The Guardian is impressed that despite the shining expanses of water in four out of the five winners, not one dumped supermarket trolley was found.

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