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The BBC's Jane Bennett-Powell
"The grip of foot and mouth is tightening"
 real 56k

Sport Minister Kate Hoey
"Sport will want to play its part in tackling this crisis"
 real 28k

Kevin Feakin, a farmer affected by foot-and-mouth
"We don't know what we will do in the future"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 28 February, 2001, 06:06 GMT
Fears of farm disease spreading
Agricultural workers burn the corpses of slaughtered cattle on a pyre at a farm at Great Warley
Thousands of cattle are being killed and burnt
The number of confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth disease looks set to rise in the UK.

Eighteen farms and abattoirs in the UK are now known to be infected, with hundreds more due to be checked.

Emergency measures
Livestock movement ban extended
Horse racing suspended
Ireland v Wales rugby postponed
National parks closed
On Tuesday night the government revealed a 152m rescue package for beef, sheep and dairy farmers, and a scheme to allow the movement of disease-free livestock to abattoirs under licence.

So far, only one case of the disease has been confirmed outside England - at an abattoir on Anglesey in north Wales.

But the BBC's Kevin Bocquet says senior officials at the Welsh Assembly have expressed growing fears that the number of cases could rise to double figures in the next few days.

He also said there is "little hope" of the outbreak in Anglesey, where 3,000 lambs are to be slaughtered, being contained.

The Welsh National Assembly agriculture committee is meeting later on Wednesday to discuss the situation, but its chairman, Glyn Davies, said he thinks the number of cases in Wales could rise to 15.

Motorists driving across the bridges connecting the mainland with Anglesey must now drive over disinfected mats, as part of the effort to contain the disease.

Another suspected case of foot-and-mouth is being investigated in Devon. If confirmed it would bring the number of cases in the county to four.

Click here to see map of confirmed cases

Leaders of the livestock haulage industry are due to meet the government on Wednesday morning to discuss compensation for their loss of business.

It follows the government decision to extend the halt on livestock movements around the UK until at least 16 March to try to halt the spread of the disease.

John Hebbs, a specialist livestock haulier from Buckinghamshire whose lorries are at a standstill, has told the BBC he will lose up to 20,000 a week because of the ban.

Under pressure

In Cheshire, the fear that this latest blow to the farming industry could push some farmers over the edge, has led the local National Farmers Union to set up a 24-hour suicide alert.


Cars are being sprayed with disinfectant to try to halt the spread
Salvation Army chaplain Keith Ineson normally visits farms in person, but he has cancelled his rounds and is now offering a telephone helpline.

The disease is also taking its toll on sporting fixtures, with all horse-racing in England and Wales cancelled.

In addition, the rugby union match between Ireland and Wales in Cardiff has been cancelled due to fears that travelling supporters could carry back the infection.

And members of the Muslim community have been urged to carry out annual sacrifices - or Qurbani - for next week's Eid al Kabir festival, outside the country.

Footpaths may close

Agriculture minister Nick Brown said on Tuesday there would be no compensation for hauliers, abattoirs and food processing firms hit by the outbreak.

Using government cash to compensate them would be in danger of infringing EU rules, he said.

But he said he hoped the licensed movement of animals would help ease financial pressures on the industry.

"We are doing our very best to help the industry. The best thing we can do is to extinguish the disease," he said.

New emergency powers have given councils the authority to close public footpaths and rights of way as a temporary precaution.

It could mean huge swathes of the UK countryside will be out of bounds to the public.


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See also:

28 Feb 01 | Europe
Germans fear virus outbreak
27 Feb 01 | Wales
Tests on suspect farms awaited
26 Feb 01 | UK
Animal ban 'will cost jobs'
26 Feb 01 | Scotland
Import ban call over animal outbreak
27 Feb 01 | Other Sports
Sport in chaos as crisis deepens
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