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Mother and sons die in room sealed against chemical attack

An Israeli mother and her two sons have suffocated in a sealed room they had prepared as a defence against a possible Iraqi chemical missile attack.

Police said the three died because of a coal-fuelled heater in an adjacent room.

According to Israeli radio, the family decided to sleep in the sealed room fearing missiles with chemical warheads could be fired at Israel if the US attacked Iraq.

The husband woke up at 5am and realised his wife, 37, and two of their children, aged 13 and 14, were not breathing.

Two other children, aged three and four, survived the incident in the Israeli Arab town of Kufr Kassem, near Tel Aviv.

The room was sealed with nylon sheeting, tape and rags placed along the bottom of the door to stop air from entering. Gas masks and filters were opened, attached and ready for use.

Police spokesman Gil Kleiman said the family had prepared a bedroom that they routinely slept in as a sealed room.

During the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel, causing damage but few casualties.

Although the missiles carried conventional warheads, Israel distributed gas masks to its citizens and instructed them to prepare sealed rooms.

Israeli officials have said the risk of an Iraqi missile attack is low, but has told citizens to renew gas masks and prepare equipment to seal rooms.

© Associated Press

Story filed: 12:16 Monday 17th March 2003
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Two Israelis die in room sealed against chemical attack

JERUSALEM - Two elderly Israeli Arab sisters were found dead Monday in a room they had sealed against a possible Iraqi chemical missile attack, and Israeli police said they
were checking whether the women suffocated.

It would be the second case of its kind involving a sealed room. A mother and her two teenage sons, also Israeli Arabs, were found dead in similar circumstances two weeks ago.

Police spokesman Gil Kleiman said the bodies of the women, Hanna Khouri, 70 and Miriam Khouri, 73, bore no signs of violence. The room was sealed with plastic sheeting, but
police could not say for certain they suffocated until a forensic examination was completed. The women shared a one-room apartment in the Arab town of Shfaram in northern Israel.

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