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Rolling Stones scared away from HK


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HONG KONG, China (Reuters) -- The lethal pneumonia outbreak in Southeast Asia has forced the Rolling Stones to postpone two Hong Kong concerts.

The veteran British rockers, currently on the Asian leg of their Licks world tour, were scheduled to perform at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on Friday and Saturday.

But increasing fears about Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which is reported to have killed around 50 people and made more than 1,300 sick, prompted the band to change its plans.

"Increases in the number of cases of SARS in Hong Kong and Southern China and continued concern over large gatherings have created apprehension among fans and concern for their safety," a statement said.

"The Stones plan to reschedule the concerts as soon as possible."

A spokeswoman said the rest of the tour will proceed. The next scheduled show is in Shanghai on April 1, marking the band's first ever performance in China.

Other first-time shows will follow in Beijing, Bangkok and the Indian cities of Bangalore and Mumbai, formerly known as Bombay.

The Stones are due to perform in Shanghai on April 1.
The Stones are due to perform in Shanghai on April 1.

Two viruses have emerged as suspects in the still-mysterious pneumonia, but health experts say the actual culprit is far from being identified. (China toll rises)

Experts believe the disease originated in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, where people have been getting sick with the symptoms of severe fever, unexplained pneumonia and difficulty breathing since November.

International travelers have inadvertently carried the bug to other parts of the world.

The Rolling Stones earlier this week played two shows in Singapore, their first in the city state since 1965.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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