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Friday, April 23, 1999 Published at 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK

Serbian media rises from the ashes

Putting out the blaze at Serbian state TV

Serbian Radio and TV (RTS) were quick to return to air on Friday after Nato aircraft seriously damaged the main TV building in central Belgrade.

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The attack caused all three domestic state TV channels, the RTS satellite TV service and Radio Belgrade's domestic service to leave the air abruptly at 0206 hours, Belgrade time.

Radio Belgrade returned to the air playing light music at 0352 hours, and reported the attack in a short bulletin at 0400 hours, local time.

At 0631 hours, local time, Serbian TV returned to the air via satellite.

Attack leads bulletins

Subsequent morning TV news bulletins broadcast from other studios nearby in Belgrade recapped what they called the "criminal" Nato attack while the three TV and radio channels were broadcasting their news bulletin, and while many reporters, editors, technical and support staff were in the building.

Morning bulletins led on Thursday's talks in Belgrade between President Slobodan Milosevic and Viktor Chernomyrdin, the Russian President's special envoy for the Balkans.

The air attack on the TV centre was the second item, illustrated with footage of the smouldering ruins of the TV building beneath a large transmitter, with rescue teams and firefighters clearing the rubble and putting out fires.

"Several adjacent buildings were also hit during the criminal air strike against the Serbian Radio and TV building in the city centre, most notably the Dusko Radovic children's theatre," the TV reported.

"A large number of employees were inside the Serbian Radio and TV building at the time of the attack. There have been casualties in this criminal attack, and the injured have been rushed to emergency ward."

A doctor in a Belgrade hospital casualty ward told the TV that his hospital had admitted 18 people so far, one of whom had died, with the rest undergoing treatment or surgery.

More casualties were expected, the doctor told the TV, over video of doctors and nurses tending to one of the injured people, who was lying unconscious in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask on his face.

More transmitters down

During the night other TV transmitter installations were attacked in Serbia, at Gobelja and Cacak, both south of Belgrade.

The Belgrade-based independent news agency Beta also reported that the TV was off the air in the southern Serbian town of Nis.

The Yugoslav news agencies Tanjug and Beta appear to be operating normally.

Serbian TV by satellite has also intermittently carried an on-screen caption in English saying: "Nato. Down there are people like you."

Another caption, this time in Serbo-Croat, reads: "Who will be next?" The TV has also been showing rock music videos juxtaposing German World War II and Nato fighter aircraft.

BBC Monitoring based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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