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News Archive
Crete & Greece
July - August 2007
Fires singe popularity of main parties
30th August 2007 ekathimerini

As forest fires ravaging the Peloponnese and Evia showed signs of abating yesterday, a poll indicated that the blazes could
have a lasting effect on the country's political scene.
Thousands of people gathered in central Athens to express their outrage at the state's inability to avert the massive
devastation caused by the fires. Their anger could have a serious impact on the September 16 election.
A poll by VPRC on behalf of Kathimerini and SKAI TV indicated that the fires had led to a 1.5 percent drop in support for New
Democracy and PASOK, with the Communist Party and Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) benefiting.
This would put ND on 41.5 percent and PASOK on 38, meaning that the ruling conservatives would return to power with 151
MPs - the slenderest of majorities in the 300-seat Parliament.
The poll also suggests that the proportion of undecided voters has increased from 19 percent before the fires to 27 percent
now.
More than half (55 percent) of those questioned believe that a PASOK government would have had the same problems as
the ruling conservatives in handling the fires.
More than 2,000 people were questioned by VPRC and 67 percent of them said they believed the wildfires were the result of
an «organized plan» by arsonists. Almost a third of those (31 percent) believe foreign forces or interests were responsible
and 26 percent blame landgrabbers.


Man killed handling explosives at home
30th August 2007 ekathimerini

A 43-year-old explosives expert was killed yesterday while handling dangerous materials at his home in a village near Arta,
northeastern Greece, police said.
The unnamed man’s house also suffered extensive damage due to the blast, which occurred as he was preparing explosives
for use in a road construction project.
It was not immediately clear what caused the blast. Nobody else was hurt in the incident, which occurred in the village of
Peta.
The man worked for various construction firms and had a license to handle explosives.
However, the law forbids explosives to be stored anywhere other than the area in which they are to be used, so police have
launched an investigation into the incident.

EARTHQUAKES Morning tremor shakes Cephalonia, Patras feels afternoon quake
28th August 2007 ekathimerini

An earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale shook the Ionian island of Cephalonia yesterday morning but did not
cause any injuries or damage. The earthquake struck near the western shore of the island at 9.29 a.m. Seismologists said
the quake was not a cause for concern as it was typical for an Ionian island. A 4 Richter quake was felt in Patras yesterday
afternoon. No damage or injuries were reported.


Arsonists Blamed as Greece Burns
26th August  2007 BBC

The Greek prime minister has implied that many of the forest fires which have killed around 50 people across the country
were started deliberately.
Costas Karamanlis said the outbreak of so many fires "can't be a coincidence".
A 65-year-old man has been charged with arson and murder relating to a fire which killed six people in Areopolis.

Blazes are still raging in many parts, with some people feared trapped as flames close in on villages in the south, on islands
and near Athens
As well as the man charged over the fire in Areopolis, in the far south of Greece, two youths were detained on suspicion of
arson in the northern city of Kavala.

The fire services said dozens of new fires had sprung up on Saturday .

The rapidly advancing fires caught many people unawares. Those who left the decision to flee too late were caught in their
houses, cars, or as they stumbled through olive groves.
Late on Saturday church bells rang out in the village of Kolyri near Olympia, warning residents to get out as soon as possible.

At least 39 people were reported to have been killed in the worst affected region, around the town of Zaharo in the western
Peloponnese, by a fire that broke out on Friday and quickly spread. Another four bodies were discovered in the central
Peloponnese region of Arcadia
The rapidly advancing fires caught many people unawares. Those who left the decision to flee too late were caught in their
houses, cars, or as they stumbled through olive groves.
Late on Saturday church bells rang out in the village of Kolyri near Olympia, warning residents to get out as soon as possible.

Among many tragic stories to emerge, one that shocked many Greeks was that of a mother who burned to death with her
four children. They died clutching each other.
The heatwave that has left much of Greece's countryside so vulnerable to fire was set to continue on Sunday. Winds were
expected to be lower than in previous days, but still sufficient to fan the flames.
Hundreds of firefighters are attempting to dampen the flames, with assistance from hundreds of soldiers. France, Spain and
Italy sent firefighting aircraft and other EU countries sent helicopters and fire engines.


Greek American wanted for hedge fund scam arrested on Crete
22nd August 2007 ekathimerini

The former head of a hedge fund in New York was arrested on Crete yesterday and could be extradited to the USA, where
he has pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges. Angelos Haliyiannis, 35, was the president of the Sterling Watters Hedge
Fund and was convicted of defrauding investors, including members of the Greek-American community, of at least $27 million
(20 million euros) by grossly misrepresenting the fund’s returns since 1996. He fled the USA before being sentenced. He was
arrested at a hotel in Gouves after being spotted by a guest who had lost money through the hedge fund. Sources said
Haliyiannis will be remanded in temporary custody while extradition proceedings begin.


Cretan travel agent tries to shoot rival
22nd August 2007 ekathimerini

Police in Hania, Crete, were yesterday seeking a female travel agent alleged to have fired a gun at a rival businessman in
the city in northern Crete due to a professional dispute.
Officers launched the investigation after a 53-year-old travel agent claimed that the unidentified woman visited him at his
office yesterday morning and shot at him, without causing any injuries.
He said he believed the woman had been angered by an advertisement he had placed in a local newspaper to promote a
holiday package. The 53-year-old told police that he threw the woman out of his office after she threatened him. She then
allegedly took a pistol out of her bag and shot through the window at him before fleeing in a jeep. Officers had failed to track
the suspect down by late yesterday.

Human trafficking
21st August 2007 ekathimerini

There are up to 25,000 human trafficking victims in Greece, according to figures released today by the Public Order Ministry.
The majority are forced into prostitution and the number of Greek men who use their services has shot up by 600 percent
since the early 1990s, the ministry said. Some 80 percent of the victims are foreign women. The most common countries of
origin are Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Moldova and Nigeria.

Early Election called for September 16th
August 19, 2007  IHT, Reuters

Ending months of speculation, Prime Minister Costas Caramanlis set the nation on a political footing Friday, telling voters to
prepare for an early election on Sept. 16 intended to secure a fresh mandate for overhauling the economic and social
systems.
Greek opposition parties and newspapers on Saturday criticised Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis for calling early elections,
saying the decision was designed to limit political damage from a bond scandal.
Karamanlis, whose conservative government has a slight lead in opinion polls, on Friday called elections for September 16,
six months ahead of schedule. He said he wanted a fresh mandate to push on with economic and social reforms.
"The (ruling) New Democracy (party) is afraid of the bond scandal," said George Karatzaferis, leader of the nationalist LAOS
party which is expected to enter the new parliament.
His views were echoed by several Athens liberal newspapers which noted that a parliamentary briefing by the head of the
money laundering commission, investigator George Zorbas, on the findings of a bond scandal probe would not take place as
planned on Tuesday after parliament was dissolved.
More than 60 people face criminal charges for their role in the sale of government bonds to pension funds at inflated prices.
Those facing charges are yet to be named and analysts say the government may suffer if members are seen to be caught up
in the scandal.
The scandal has already pushed the government's approval ratings to their lowest level since they swept to power in 2004.
The prime minister's party now leads the main opposition Socialists by only one or two percentage points in polls.


Athens suburb fire destroys homes
17th August 2007 BBC

Four simultaneous forest fires broke out on Penteli mountain on Thursday and swept down into affluent suburbs some 20km
(12 miles) from the city centre.
Dozens of homes were destroyed and at least 10 people were taken to hospital with breathing problems.
Officials say they suspect the fires were the work of arsonists.
"The fire is now away from the suburbs, confined to a forest area and that is where all our efforts are focused," a fire
brigade official told Reuters.
Although the fire has been extinguished on all major fronts, officials say emergency crews remain on high alert in case high
winds in the area cause a fresh outbreak.
Residents of the Melisia, Vrilisia and Penteli suburbs watched on Thursday as 30m (100ft) high flames engulfed their homes.
Hundreds of people had to be evacuated, including 130 patients in a clinic in Melisia.
A state of emergency has been declared in the three affected districts.
"This is a huge catastrophe," the Melisia mayor, Manolis Grafakos, said.
"There are no words to describe it. A large chunk of the forest is gone, houses have been burned and I do not think we are
fully aware of the extent of the damage."
More than 60 fire engines, 19 planes and helicopters as well as hundreds of firefighters and volunteers were involved in
tackling the blaze.
However, there has been criticism that the response to the crisis was too slow, with water-dropping planes not reaching the
scene for almost two hours.
In a news conference the authorities said the planes had been hampered by smoke and winds of more than 80 km/h (50
mph), which fanned the flames.
The BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Athens says this is the worst fire season in Greece in living memory.


Crete Vendetta
15th August 2007 Ekathimerini

On Sunday an armed man entered the Rethymnon army camp while families were visiting soldiers there and opened fire on a
19-year-old conscript. The soldier was struck by a bullet in the thigh but fortunately only suffered a light injury. There were
some 500 people at the Theodorakis army camp in Rethymnon when the incident occurred at 11.20 a.m. The suspect is said
to have fired four shots at the conscript. He then threatened soldiers who tried to detain him before making his getaway.
The victim's family recognised the 35 year old gunman but they have refused to identify him. Police said that the incident was
linked to a dispute between the families of the two men and they are fearful that a vendetta may be brewing. They believe
the suspect shot his victim in the thigh because the pair had argued at a bar around a month earlier. It's believed that the
families of the two men are engaged in a long-running dispute over property rights.

Fatal drilling
13th August 2007 ekathimerini

A worker died of electrocution yesterday while boring a hole for a well in the area of Mantoules, near Ierapetra, on Crete.
Police did not release any details about the man but said that the owner of the plot of land where the drilling was taking
place was arrested. Another worker was also taken into custody. Officers were looking for the man who owned the drill.


ACCIDENTAL PLUNGE
Italian airline official seriously injured after falling out of plane
13th August 2007 ekathimerini

The representative of an Italian airline was hospitalized on Rhodes early yesterday after falling out of an airplane parked on
the island’s airport runway. The unnamed official opened the door of the aircraft shortly before takeoff but the staircase to
the runway had already been removed, so he fell several meters onto the concrete runway, authorities said. It was unclear
why he had opened the door of the plane. The official was in stable condition yesterday.


Rhodes conservationists ask island visitors to take care in the sea
10th Aug 2007 ekathimerini

Conservationists on Rhodes have asked visitors to the Dodecanese island to take care not to harm sea turtles after 16 of
the animals were found dead in the island’s waters this year. The Rhodes Hydrobiological Station said that six of the dead
sea turtles were found in July, the highest figure recorded for a single month on the island. This has prompted fears they
were killed after being struck by speedboats or jet skis .

Hashish haul
Aug 09 2007 Haniotika Nea & ekathimerini

Police yesterday uncovered a hashish farm with 3,430 cannabis plants in a forest in the area of Chrissoskalitsa (near
Elafonissi). The cannabis was being grown in 14 guarded areas. According to police the plants were 1 to 1.5 meters high and
would have produced 1 tonne of cannabis worth 1.5 million euros.   Police said they believe two foreign nationals were in
charge of taking care of the plants and that a Greek national is the owner of the well-organized plantation. A manhunt has
been launched for the suspects.

Police cut and transported 3430 plants to Hania. This is the second largest haul in Hania - the largest was in 1993 when
3500 cannabis plants were found in the mountain village area of Samonas, Dimos Armeni.

Islands rationing scarce water
9th August ekathimerini

Just over a week after the government declared a state of emergency on the Cycladic Islands to solve the water crisis in the
Aegean, officials have told Kathimerini that they are rationing the use of water by islanders.
The head of the local authority on the small island of Folegandros, Eleftherios Venios, said that the island is being supplied
with less water than it needs, forcing officials to restrict supplies to residents and visitors.
“We are doing what we can so it does not affect our tourism but I do not know how long we can hold out,” he said. “They
are bringing us 3,000 cubic meters of water a week but we need 5,000 cubic meters.”
Many of the islands still rely on special ships delivering water to them every week.
“The problem will be worse next year. We need to find a permanent solution,” said Venios.
The Cyclades Islands received 24 million euros to improve water supplies earlier this year. But water tanks and desalination
plants have yet to be constructed.
“The island has some underground water reserves but we rely on the water tankers,” said the head of the local authority on
Sikinos. “It would be good to have a desalination plant because as things stand we have to fret over whether the ship will
arrive on time.”
Authorities on Syros are also planning to build a desalination center as they said they would just about meet their water
demands for this summer.
Santorini is also suffering a lack of water, which is exacerbated by its volcanic structure, which means that rainwater mixes
with seawater in underground reserves.
“The problem is in the quality, not the quantity,” said Thera Mayor Angelos Roussos .


Strong winds fan flames on Corfu; village evacuated as precaution
6th August  2007 ekathimerini

A fire on the western island of Corfu prompted authorities yesterday to evacuate the village of Santa for precautionary
reasons. Five water-dropping planes along with two helicopters were taking part in the fight against the blaze that was
being fanned by strong winds. Earlier, firefighters contained fires in Florina and Kastoria, Western Macedonia, without any
reports of injuries or homes being damaged.


Northern Greece – From Heatwave to Floods
7th August 2007  Reuters

Summer storms flooded farms and village homes in northern Greece on Monday, destroying crops and forcing the evacuation
of a camp site, authorities said.
Heavy rains hit northern Greece overnight, in the middle of an unusually hot summer, causing floods and power cuts in the
city of Thessaloniki and other towns in the region.
"We have intense storms in the north ... and they are likely to continue for several hours," Greek weather service director
Dimitris Ziakopoulos told state TV.
He said the storms could spread to the rest of the country and hit the Aegean islands in the middle of the tourist season.
About 50 houses and shops in the northeastern town of Komotini have been destroyed by the floods. The fire brigade
received nearly 200 emergency calls from Komotini and Thessaloniki residents to pump water out of buildings.
TV showed cars trapped in muddy streets and trees uprooted by strong winds. Hundreds of hectares of cotton and tobacco
crops have been destroyed.
Greece has experienced two heat waves this summer that have killed more than 10 people and sent dozens to hospital as
temperatures soared to 46 Celsius (115 Fahrenheit). The country has also been ravaged by thousands of forest fires.


Serious burns
7th August 2007 ekathimerini

A 36-year-old man suffered burns to 80 percent of his body on Sunday in Hania, Crete, when a propane cylinder used in a
portable burner exploded, authorities said yesterday. The man was using a gas-powered burner to heat up material in a
storeroom when the cylinder exploded due to a leak. Police said the storeroom was completely destroyed by the explosion
and that minor damage was caused to adjoining homes. No one else was injured in the accident .

Mother kills children, self at home on Evia
7th August 2007 ekathimerini

A mother stabbed her two children to death at the family’s home on the island of Evia before setting the house on fire and
turning the knife on herself, authorities said yesterday.
It was not immediately clear what drove the 31-year-old Indian national to allegedly murder her children, aged 1 and 5 years
old, on Sunday but police said they had been called to the house in the village of Psachna on previous occasions because of
family disturbances.
Sources allege that the unnamed woman complained that her husband was an alcoholic and would abuse her and the
children. The man’s whereabouts were not known yesterday.
Police said the three charred bodies bore several stab wounds and that four knives were found on the premises.

British Tourist rescued near Tripiti Gorge
4th August Haniotika Nea

A British tourist suffering from heat stroke was rescued from near Tripiti gorge by helicopter on Thursday, just a few days
after two Polish tourists were found dead in the same gorge. The Briton and his partner had set off from the Xyloskala at
Omalos and walked towards Tripiti. Shortly afterwards the man started suffering heat stroke symptoms and dizziness. The
couple  notified authorities who sent a Super Puma  helicopter to pick them up and take the man to hospital. He was treated
and  released from hospital the next day.

Alert after passenger boards wrong flight
4th August 2007 ekathimerini

An investigation has been launched into how a young Bulgarian man boarded the wrong flight at Athens International Airport
and was eventually discovered by passengers rather than security or airline staff.
It was revealed yesterday that the unnamed man boarded a flight for Copenhagen although he had a ticket for a different
destination. Officials want to find out how he passed through two security checks without staff noticing that he was headed
for the wrong flight.
It only emerged that the Bulgarian was on the wrong airplane when passengers noticed that he changed seats several
times after boarding the aircraft. They notified the cabin crew and airport security staff boarded the airplane and removed
the passenger.
Sources said the young man was given an eight-month suspended sentence for breaching air travel safety laws.


Fires abate as weather cools
3rd August  ekathimerini

Firefighters fought several blazes in different parts of the country yesterday but the number of forest fires dropped
considerably as temperatures cooled.
The worst of yesterday’s fires was at the foot of Mount Olympus. Local authorities believe that the blaze, caused by three
smaller fires which started simultaneously on Wednesday evening, was the work of arsonists. Mayor Nikolaos Valsamopoulos
described the damage wreaked on forestland as “the worst since the German bombing of 1943.”
Smaller fires were reported in Messinia, Iraklion on Crete, Serres, Florina, Kastoria and Kilkis. The fire in Messinia was close
to residential areas but there were no reports of any damage.
Most of the fires had been extinguished by nightfall but firefighters remained on standby.
Meanwhile European Union figures showed that last month was the worst July on record for forest fires on the continent.


Greece top for British injuries
3rd August 2007 ekathimerini

The British government yesterday warned its citizens to be more cautious when traveling abroad after figures showed that
nearly 1,000 Britons were hospitalized in Greece last year and 48 British women reportedly raped.
A Foreign Office report indicated that 955 Britons were hospitalized in Greece, compared to 601 in Spain, even though Spain
attracts more British holidaymakers than any other destination in the world. Greece is the sixth most popular destination.
The figures for reported rapes of British women in Greece last year were also higher than those in Spain, 48 as compared to
40.
Parliamentary Undersecretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Meg Munn said that Britons, who have a
reputation for being drunk and disorderly on Greek islands, should try harder to avoid getting into trouble.
“Although some of the incidents people face are unavoidable, many can be prevented,” she said.
The Foreign Office issued a statement warning women: “Don’t drink so much that you are not in control of what you are
doing – and never leave your drink unattended.”
Earlier this week a 21-year-old Briton received a jail term for biting a policeman on Rhodes. The tourist was released pending
an appeal.
In a related development yesterday, police in northern Greece recovered the body of a British tourist from the wreckage of a
car in Halkidiki. The unidentified man had apparently lost control of his vehicle and crashed, according to police, who said that
a passenger in the car, also a Briton, had been seriously injured. It was unclear whether the driver had been drinking.
Yesterday’s death occurred in the same area as a hit-and-run incident in mid-July that caused the death of 22-year-old
British soldier Brett Walmsley.


Photovoltaic power at Athens Airport
3rd Aug 2007 ekathimerini

An 8-megawatt photovoltaic system will be built to help power Athens airport. The 43-million-euro project is expected to be
completed next summer and will supply the AIA with 30 percent of its energy needs. The photovoltaic cells will cover an area
of up to 60,000 square meters and will not affect any operations.


Elections in September?
3rd Aug 2007 ekathimerini

Parliament is unlikely to convene again after the summer holidays because the government is considering calling early
elections, which will most probably be held on September 23, sources suggested yesterday.
Although ministers dodged questions about when Greece will go to the polls, a senior government official who preferred to
remain anonymous told Kathimerini that the government will announce the election date in the week beginning August 20.
It is the same week that Parliament is due to reconvene after the summer recess and will mean that there will not be
another parliamentary session until after the elections.
New Democracy was elected to power for a four-year term on March 7, 2004, but despite the insistence of Prime Minister
Costas Karamanlis that the conservatives would stay the full course, speculation has grown that they will go to the polls
early.
Some commentators thought that the government’s handling of the forest fires this summer may have delayed the
announcement of elections as New Democracy has come in for some heavy criticism.
However, the indications are that Karamanlis has begun preparing his party for a trip to the polls.
He met yesterday with Defense Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis. It is
thought that planning for the upcoming election campaign was the main focus of their talks.


FAMILY SHOOTING
Man kills brother-in-law in Athens to avenge his son’s recent death
3rd Aug 2007 ekathimerini

A 63-year-old man turned himself in to police in Acharnes, northern Athens, yesterday after shooting dead one of his
brothers-in-law and attempting to kill the other. The unnamed 63-year-old went to the building site where the men were
working and opened fire. He told police later that he shot at the two brothers because they allegedly bought the motorcycle
on which his son was killed three months ago and held them responsible for the youth’s death. The man who was killed in
yesterday’s shooting was not named but police said he was 63 years old as well. His brother, who survived unscathed, said
that the two men had not bought the motorcycle in question.


Tax Relief for Greek Tipplers
Associated  Press 2nd August 2007

Greeks hoping to unwind at bars, restaurants and massage parlors could save money under a new tax code which declares
spending on entertainment - including for alcohol and strip clubs - to be tax deductible.
Baptisms and wedding receptions are on the rebate list too, as part of the conservative government's bid to crack down on
the country's vast underground economy. So are karate lessons, visits to the hairdresser and popular treatments for weight
loss and baldness.
The ministry published details Thursday of the new system, aimed at forcing more small businesses to issue receipts and
reveal income. Greece's black market is widely estimated as being worth about 30 percent of the country's gross domestic
product.
Under the reforms, which took effect Wednesday, Greeks can reduce their taxable income by submitting with their annual
declarations stamped and signed receipts for services that top the Finance Ministry list of tax evaders: mainly from
entertainment and home renovation businesses.
Opposition Socialists dismissed the measures as "an admission of failure" to curb tax evasion.
Greece is struggling to fight high public debt and keep its budget deficit below the European Union limit of 3 percent of GDP.
The Finance Ministry reduced the budget deficit from 7.9 percent of GDP in 2004 to a projected 2.4 percent this year.
Public debt, however, is estimated at 104 percent of GDP .


Greek power company to sell Tellas telecoms company for ?175 million
Associated Press   July 31, 2007

Greece's Public Power Corporation SA on Tuesday said it has reached an agreement with Egyptian telecoms tycoon Naguib
Sawiris to sell its stake in Greek phone company Tellas for Euro 175 million (US$240 million).
"The board of directors decided today to accept the offer ... at a price of E 175 million," PPC said in a statement.
PPC has been in talks with Sawiris for several weeks about control of Tellas, with the two sides differing over the value of
the company.
PPC held a 50 percent minus-one-share stake in Tellas while the Sawiris family's holding company, Weather Investments,
holds the rest.
Earlier this year, Sawiris acquired Greece's third-largest mobile operator TIM, renamed Wind Hellas,  and said he planned to
merge its operations with Tellas to create a major rival to dominant telephone operator OTE, a former state monopoly.

Eight in 10 resort pools are unlicensed
31st July 2007 ekathimerini

Spot checks at hotels, rented rooms and other tourist resorts on islands near Athens revealed that 80 percent of the sites
had swimming pools that were operating without a proper license.
Piraeus Prefecture officials found that 24 of the 30 swimming pools they checked did not have the necessary paperwork and
ordered them to be drained. Ten of the pools were on Spetses, six on Aegina, four on Poros, three on Agistri and one on
Hydra.
The officials also took samples of water from the pools to send for tests in Athens. Swimming pools have to fulfill a number of
criteria, mostly to do with safety and hygiene, before they are awarded a license.
The prefecture has written to the Greek National Tourism Organization asking for licenses to be issued to the resorts whose
pools comply with the regulations.


Missing tourists dead in Tripiti Gorge
Saturday 28th July

At 7pm last night one of the missing Polish tourists, a 37 year old man, was found alive in Tripiti, 5 hours walk away from the
entrance to Samaria, in a very bad condition suffering from exhaustion and dehydration. The climber who found the man
gave him some water then walked back to the top of mountain to get a mobile phone signal to call for help, but by the time
the rescue team arrived he had died. His sister's body was found a short distance away. It appears that the two did not
take the footpath into Samaria gorge as was widely reported, but climbed up to Gingilos and across towards the Tripiti
gorge.  They had arrived at Omalos with a group of 29 other tourists who walked the Samaria Gorge.

Two Tourists Missing in Samaria Gorge
Wed July 25th 2007

Two Polish tourists are apparently missing in the Samaria  Gorge since Saturday. Their tour operator and guide only notified
the authorities on Monday. They said the two tourists had tired before Samaria village and they had believed that they had
gone back up to top of the gorge rather than continue. Despite searches throughout the gorge yesterday there is no sign of
the 37 year old Polish man, who suffers from epilepsy, and his 40 year old sister. The authorities will now try to locate them
by their mobile phone signal; their mobile is registered with a company abroad and permission is being sought.
Authorities say they will be holding the tour operator responsible for the delay in reporting them missing, and that anyone
with health problems should not walk the gorge.


Two pilots die battling fire on Evia - Airplane crashes into mountainside
24th July 2007 ekathimerini

Two pilots of a firefighting plane were killed yesterday when their aircraft crashed after dropping water on a wildfire on the
island of Evia, northeast of Athens, taking to seven the number of people killed while battling thousands of blazes across
Greece this summer.

Flight Lieutenant Dimitris Stoilidis, 34, and Flying Officer Yiannis Hatzoudis, 27, were killed when their airplane came down in
the area of Styra, southern Evia. Stoilidis was a married father of two twin boys. Hatzoudis was single.

Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras said the two men were "heroes".  "Their unselfish enthusiasm and self-sacrifice has led
them to immortality" he said.

Witnesses reported seeing the yellow Canadair CL 415 'water bomber' swoop over the fire near the village of Dileso and
then fail to climb quickly enough to avoid crashing into the mountainside.

"Our thoughts are with all those people who, for the last few weeks, have been battling hundreds of fires throughout
Greece," said Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis while on an official visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina. "I am sure I convey the
feelings of all Greeks when I say a big thank you to them for all they are risking and sacrificing to protect the wealth of our
forests."

The crews of firefighting planes have been stretched this summer due to the large number of forest fires. A pilot who spoke
to Kathimerini just hours before yesterday's crash said that he flew nine firefighting missions between June and July last
year whereas he has flown 75 during the same period this year.

The fire that broke out in Styra at around noon yesterday was still raging last night. It is thought that a number of homes in
Dileso have been burned despite the efforts of residents and firefighters.

The fire service also had to battle dozens of other wildfires yesterday, including one near the village of Hiliomodi, near
Corinth, where a blaze destroyed several homes last week. There was also a smaller brush fire near the Sismanoglio
Hospital in Vrilissia, northeastern Athens, but no damage was reported.


Greece once again gripped by heatwave
ANA 23rd July 2007

Hospital staff across Greece were placed on alert Monday as a heatwave, with temperatures expected to reach 45 degrees
Celsius, was predicted to grip the country until the end of the week
Greece's health ministry said all 132 hospitals will be fully staffed to assist the public through the heatwave.
Officials said dozens of people suffering from sunstroke or breathing problems were rushed to hospital on Monday across the
country.
The country's public power corporation said it expected possible power shortages as air conditioning systems were working
overtime.


Trekker dies in Samaria Gorge
23rd July 2007 ekathimerini.com

A 46-year-old male tourist from Lithuania died on Crete on Saturday after trekking through the Samaria gorge, authorities
said. The man is believed to have fallen ill at a cafe for no apparent reason while drinking a beverage shortly after the trek.
Authorities said they will perform an autopsy on the body to determine the cause of death.


Remains of three U.S. divers, missing in Greece since 1978, identified
20th July 2007  AP

The remains of three American divers who went missing while exploring underwater caves nearly 30 years ago have been
identified by DNA tests, the U.S. Embassy said Friday.
One of the three, U.S. Air Force Sgt. Donald Michaud, will be buried Friday with full military honors in Biddeford, Maine, a
statement said.
The remains of Michaud, along with Airman Jan Granroth and her brother Mark Granroth, were identified after DNA analysis
by the U.S. Department of Defense Armed Forces Medical Examiner.
Donald Michaud had been stationed at a U.S. military base near Athens when he disappeared, along with the two other
divers, while exploring undersea caves in Lake Vouliagmeni, near Athens, on Sept. 9, 1978.
The lake, a rock-encrusted basin of thermally-heated, brackish water near the coast south of Athens, is known for its
dangerous maze of underwater caves and unpredictable currents
Michaud, who was 32, was survived by his wife, Rosemary, and their three children, Yuni, Robert and Katherine.
Funerals for the other two divers will be held August 4 in Sebeka, Minnesota, also with full military honors, the embassy said.
The divers' remains were recovered last year by Greek volunteer divers who had been searching for a missing Greek
photographer, who disappeared in Lake Vouliagmeni in 1990.
After failing to match the remains to the missing photographer, Greek authorities turned them over to the U.S. military, which
used DNA analysis for identification.

Fire threatens homes on Skiathos
13th July 2007 ekathimerini

A fire that broke out on the island of Skiathos yesterday morning ravaged forestland and forced the evacuation of three
villages and two hotels before it was contained late last night as strong winds waned.
A few homes were damaged by the blaze, believed to have started near a garbage dumpster, but there were no injuries.
The head of the fire service, Andreas Kois, arrived on the island in the afternoon as the General Secretariat for Civil
Protection declared a state of emergency. After the blaze was contained, firemen remained on standby.
Fires were also reported to have broken out on Mt Pelion, which was ravaged by a huge blaze at the end of last month, as
well as in Lamia, Amaliada and Nafplion.

Meanwhile, the bodies of three seasonal firefighters who died in a huge blaze on Crete on Wednesday, were buried in state
ceremonies. A fourth firefighter, who survived the fire, was transferred to an Athens hospital with serious burns. Two of the
dead, Nikitas Koromilas, 34, and Iraklis Tzanakis, 40, died of asphyxiation before they were burned, according to a coroner
who identified them from dental records. Survivor Manolis Michalodimitrakis, 37, has burns on 55 percent of his body.
A preliminary investigation was ordered into the circumstances surrounding the seasonal workers' expedition to the gorge
near Rethymnon where the fire started. The fire official who had been on duty on the day of the fire said he had not ordered
the workers to approach the gorge. But the president of the national union of seasonal forest firefighters, Giorgos Pontikalis,
was unconvinced. "Those who ordered those people to go down there should face up to their responsibilities,"  he said.


53 injured as Athens trains crash head-on
13th July 2007 ekathimerini

A Proastiakos suburban railway train collided head-on with a freight train in Sepolia, western Athens, yesterday, injuring 53
people as the country's long list of rail accidents grows.
None of the injuries from the crash, which occured at 7.25 a.m., appeared to be serious, according to initial comments from
police and officials.
The cause of the accident is not known but the Greek Railworkers Association said the two trains should not have been on
the same stretch of line.
One official said that initial evidence indicated poor communication between station masters was responsible for the accident.
Both train engineers and two station masters were suspended from duty until the completion of an investigation.
Officials said the trains were moving at low speed as they were traveling through a residential area when the collision took
place.
The suburban rail train was headed to the port of Piraeus, south of Athens, while the freight train was traveling to a petrol
refinery, west of Athens, to load up on fuel.
Neither of the trains derailed.
According to press reports, the driver of the suburban passenger train could see the crash was about to take place minutes
before the collision and informed passengers to head to the back of the train to help avoid injuries.
Employees accuse the Hellenic Railways Organization (OSE) of operating without sticking to basic safety rules and claim that
communication between drivers and station masters is often made on their personal mobiles phones.

Strike shuts down the Acropolis for six days
13th July 2007 ekathimerini

A strike by archaeological site guards will shut down the Acropolis, the country?s most visited monument, for six days, their
union said yesterday.
The ancient citadel, which contains architectural marvels such as the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike, will remain
closed tomorrow and Sunday and then again between July 21 to 24.
Union officials said the move was aimed at pressing the Culture Ministry to satisfy their demands on working conditions and
pay.
"Given that despite assurances, no response has been given to our demands, we decided to go on strike," said the
Archaeological Guards? Union, which numbers some 1,900 members.
The guards want better pay for night duty and for working six days a week, among other demands.

Three firemen killed, one hurt in Cretan blaze
12th July 2007 ekathimerini

Victims trapped due to changing wind
Three firefighters died and another was seriously injured yesterday on the island of Crete while fighting a forest fire when
the blaze trapped them due to a sudden change in wind direction, according to authorities.
The three, who were on seasonal contracts, perished after becoming trapped by the blaze in a gorge in the Doxaro area,
outside of the city of Rethymnon on Crete's northeast coast.
The three men, between the ages of 34 and 40, had almost 20 years of firefighting experience among them.
A fourth firefighter was hospitalized with serious burns from the wildfire, which started around 2 p.m.
According to a local municipal official, the firefighters were trapped while fighting the blaze when, due to a sudden change in
wind direction, the fire surrounded them and prevented them from being able to escape.
A fourth firefighter was taken to a local hospital with burns on 40 percent of his body, a quarter of which are second degree.
Public Order Minister Vyron Polydoras said of the victims, «We honor them as genuine heroes for their sacrifice and tragic
deaths.»
«We always stress during training exercises the priority given to the safety of the human lives of firefighters and others,»
said the minister.
An internal investigation has been ordered into the incident.
Fanned by strong winds, the fire continued to burn on four different fronts yesterday afternoon. It was being fought by 54
firefighters, 13 fire trucks and a water-dropping helicopter.
Greece has been ravaged by forest fires this summer after a dry winter. As temperatures soared, it took about a week to
bring under control a forest fire that destroyed more than half a national park on Mount Parnitha, north of Athens.
According to official data, 16 firefighters have been killed in the line of duty since 1998, of whom seven were involved in
forest fire operations.
The deadliest fire in recent years was in Karea, eastern Athens, when four firefighters lost their lives.

Plans for Ship Passengers Bill of Rights
11th July 2007   AP

Greece plans to introduce a bill of rights that would allow inconvenienced ship passengers to demand compensation from
ferry companies, the government said Wednesday.
Legislation providing for a "passenger bill of rights" would be introduced in parliament in coming days, Merchant Marine
Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis said, and would take effect by month's end - just in time for Greece's peak tourist season.
The provisions would apply to ferry and hydroplane passengers.
The bill of rights, modeled after established programs for air travelers, would grant passengers the right to claim
compensation - including money and free accommodation - from coastal shipping companies for delayed or canceled boat
trips and also for poor service.
The legislation would also require every passenger ship to have a medical doctor aboard.
Kefaloyiannis, who met Wednesday with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, said companies could face fines of up to ?500,000
(US$687,100) if found to be in breach of the new rules. He also announced new investments for upgrading 11 ports around
the country
Greece expects more than 16 million visitors this year, and Kefaloyiannis said up to 7 million Greek and foreign tourists are
expected to travel this summer by ship to island destinations from the three ports near Athens.
The largest of these, Piraeus, is chronically choked with passenger traffic in the summer months, while departures are
frequently delayed because of tight scheduling and spotty ship maintenance.

Island priest arrested after unholy collection
9th July 2007 ekathimerini

A priest was arrested on the Aegean island of Icaria on Saturday after allegedly taking delivery of a parcel containing two
kilos of cannabis, according to police.
The unidentified priest, aged 49, is believed to have picked up the parcel which had been sent to the island on a ferryboat
that had departed earlier the same day from the port of Piraeus.
After detecting the contents of the parcel, the police and port authorities followed the cannabis to Icaria in a joint operation
and arrested the priest when he appeared to collect it.
Police did not disclose any information concerning the identity of the person who sent the parcel to the Aegean island from
Athens.
The priest was due to appear before a public prosecutor in Piraeus on Saturday


Heraklion Archaeological Museum  to open temporary Exhibition
5th July 2007

The closure of the archaeological museum in Heraklion late last autumn has disappointed many a visitor to Crete this year.  
Finally a new temporary home for many of the main exhibits is to open this month.
Culture Minister Georgos Voulgarakis is to open the new exhibition in Xatzidakis St, Heraklion. The opening date is yet to be
announced, but is expected to be around the 20th July 2007.  The temporary exhibition will  run until Autumn 2008, by which
time the renovation work on the Museum main building should be completed.

True extent of forest damage is revealed
4th July 2007 ekathimerini

A fire that devastated Mount Parnitha near Athens has destroyed some 4,200 hectares of forest area, according to figures
provided yesterday, as the government promised to take steps that will keep developers off the razed land.
Initial data from Mount Parnitha forest authorities showed that 2,180 hectares of fir tree-covered land was burnt, while
another 2,040 hectares of pine trees were scorched.
In a bid to allay concerns that developers will build in the area, the government said aerial photos of the district will be
widely published so the public can be better informed about the reforesting process.
Top ministry officials also said the government is determined to make sure the forest will regenerate.
"Wherever there was a forest, there will continue to be one. Not one inch will be lost," said Interior Minister Prokopis
Pavlopoulos after a Cabinet meeting.
"The forest will be protected and will be regrown," he added.
Other immediate steps include moving ahead with anti-flooding measures over the next few months as the scorched forest
will not be able to absorb rainfall.
The conservative government has come under criticism from political opposition and environmental groups for failing to
prevent the fires from spreading.
After burning for six days, firefighters managed only late yesterday to partially control the blaze on the mountain, located
north of the capital.
Other steps aimed at protecting the country's shrinking forests, are plans to almost triple the amount of space protected by
the Mount Parnitha National Park to 11,000 hectares from 3,800 hectares currently.
The law extending the forest's borders, to be introduced via a presidential decree, is aimed at implementing stricter control
of the area.
Initial plans have been drawn up to help the trees grow back but experts warned against introducing new plants to speed
up the process that could alter the natural balance on the mountain

Plea for a national water plan
3rd July 2007 ekathimerini

Greece is planning new golf courses in different parts of the country and building tourism hubs without having figured out
how to supply the new projects with water, experts said yesterday.
Dimitris Papayiannidis, president of the Association of Civil Engineers of Greece (ACEG), said that parts of Greece such as the
Aegean Islands and the coastal area of Pieria, northern Greece, run the risk of desertification in the immediate future, while
elsewhere water is being wasted.
"A high 87 percent of water consumed in the country goes toward the irrigation of 1.3 million hectares. Of this, farmers
consume water as they please for 700,000 hectares, while on the remaining 600,000 hectares, water is channeled via old
networks creating losses of up to 40 percent," said Papayiannidis.
Senior Environment Ministry officials admitted that Greece needs to review its water management policies at a national level
and announced the inauguration of a water committee, as dictated by EU directives.

HEAT WAVE VICTIMS
Death toll from recent hot weather rises to 15, Health Ministry says
3rd July 2007 ekathimerini

The number of people killed in Greece as a result of the heat wave that ended last week reached 15, the Health Ministry said
yesterday. The latest three deaths related to the hot spell were reported over the weekend. Two men, aged 80 and 95, died
after being hospitalized in Athens and on the island of Naxos. A third woman died in Iraklion, Crete, from the heat and
excessive alcohol consumption, according to doctors.

DIPLOMAT DEATH
US Embassy in Cyprus says military attache committed suicide
4th July 2007 ekathimerini

The US Embassy in Cyprus said yesterday that the death of its military attache, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Mooney, was a
'personal tragedy' and had no 'political or security implications'.  Mooney, 45, was found in a remote mountain area of the
island on Monday. He had been missing for four days. An autopsy revealed that he bled to death from a cut to the throat. A
forensic investigator said the wound was self-inflicted and there was no evidence of foul play. Cypriot police are treating
Mooney's death as suicide.
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