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    Killer flu: Could the world cope?

    By Ray Dunne

    It is only a matter of time before a major outbreak of potentially deadly flu, according to scientists. Could the world cope?

    There have been three flu pandemics during the past 100 years.

    The 1918 Spanish flu is estimated to have killed up to 50m people worldwide.

    The Asian flu of 1957 was caught much earlier but still claimed one million lives. The Hong Kong flu of 1968 was responsible for a similar number of deaths.

    It has been 36 years since the last major outbreak and scientists, health professionals and some governments are getting twitchy.

    'Inevitable outbreak'

    Most scientists agree that another flu pandemic is inevitable. Many say it is overdue.

    "It really is inevitable," says Dr Alan Hay, director of the World Influenza Centre in London. "We don't know when it will arrive but we are anticipating it."