Cuban leader's daughter scolds press over death report

HAVANA -- The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro interrupted a speech that she was giving in Havana Thursday to berate the press for reporting that she had been killed in an air crash before making an attempt to confirm the news.

The name Mariela Castro appeared on the passenger list of the Air Algerie plane that disappeared Thursday morning in West Africa, but Castro's daughter told the media it was a woman traveling on a Spanish passport.

Castro, the head of Cuba's National Sex Education Center, was speaking at an event in Havana's Hotel Nacional when the news of her alleged demise broke.

"I learned from a friend who is a journalist that it seems that on the list of passengers there is a Mariela Castro but with a Spanish passport," she said. "I've found other Mariela Castros on the Internet but only one with the second last name Espin. That's me."

She rebuked the media for creating a virtual news show out of something not very important at a time there is so much "truly important, worrying news for the international public."

News of the deaths of so many people in armed conflicts and situations of injustice around the world "doesn't get around the world as quickly as this false report," Castro said.

She also said the false reporting caused alarm and a rash of phone calls from friends. As the story broke, Castro's husband could be seen in the hotel lobby fielding phone calls.

The Air Algerie flight with 116 on board was flying from Burkina Faso to Algeria when it went missing.