|Monday, 11 December 2023|
Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 97-10-05
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cynews.com/>
Sunday, October 5, 1997
 Tourists saved from blazing cruise shipBy Jean Christou
A fireboat battles the blaze on the stricken Romantica HUNDREDS of tourists were rescued from a blazing cruise ship 60 nautical miles off the Cyprus coast early yesterday morning.All 673 passengers and crew aboard the Cypriot-owned Romantica, operated by New Paradise Tours, were evacuated without any reported injuries between 6.30 and 7.45am after a fire had broken out in the engine room an hour earlier. The blaze broke out as the Romantica was returning from Port Said in Egypt, where Paradise operates two-day cruises.
The fire was still raging out of control late yesterday evening, six hours after the passengers arrived safely at Limassol port aboard rival cruiser Princessa Victoria which is operated by rivals Louis Cruises.
The Victoria was also on its way back to Limassol from Egypt with an almost equal number on board when it received the Mayday call and saw flares go up from the Romantica.
Disembarking at Limassol just after 2pm, Victoria's Greek captain Yiannis Papadopoulos said the Romantica had been some 12 nautical miles ahead when the call was received: 45 minutes later the Victoria arrived at the scene.
He said the Romantica had already lowered its lifeboats and the Victoria lowered two of its own.
"By 7.45am, you could say 8am, all of the passengers were on the Victoria, " Papadopoulos said. "No one was injured. Many were even sunbathing and we fed them very well."
He added: Everybody was very calm which was incredible after such a tragic incident."
Among the passengers were 225 Russians, 120 Britons, 34 Hungarians, 22 Swedes, 21 Dutch, 18 Germans, 24 Greeks and only six Cypriots. Of the 186 crew members, only five were Cypriots.
Two British bases Wessex helicopters from Akrotiri also flew straight to the scene and helped to winch passengers from he burning vessel.
The Royal naval vessel Sir Tristram also rushed to the scene "at full speed", bases spokesman Mervyn Wynne-Jones told the Cyprus Mail.
The captain of the Romantica and four senior ship's officers stayed at the scene aboard the British vessel to help assess the damage.
Wynne-Jones said the Sir Tristram had "coincidentally" been only some 30 miles from the Romantica on its way to Cyprus after "supporting international military exercises off Egypt".
Wynne-Jones described the Romantica as being "badly ablaze".
Around lunchtime he said the helicopters had returned to Akrotiri but were standing by in case they were needed.
The British naval vessel had also left the scene and was returning to Cyprus, he said.
The Victoria arrived at Limassol port just after 1pm. Its own passengers disembarked first followed by those of the Romantica, a few still in pyjamas and wrapped in blankets.
Some of the passengers spoke to the swarms of journalists gathered on the pier but most were herded onto tourist buses and taken to their respective hotels in various parts of the island.
Relatives and friends of Cypriot passengers and crew also gathered at the port, some in tears.
One British woman said there had been no panic. "I heard a lot of shouting and people running around, and then they said `abandon ship'," she said.
"They knocked on our door and told us to get up on deck," said Trevor Crasse, 50, an aircraft engineer from Bristol. "I got a little bit concerned when they said women and children first. I couldn't believe it was happening."
Cypriot Savvas Stylianou, still in pyjamas said: "I got up and the cabin was full of smoke. I found a life jacket and went out into the corridor. I tried to go back in my cabin to get my belongings but the smoke was too dense," he said.
Some of the passengers said the crew, mostly young Filipino sailors, who disembarked in single file around 3pm, were more shaken than the passengers.
"The crew seemed to panic and didn't behave accordingly," said Briton Derek Lewis, 35. "They didn't seem to be well-trained and the lifeboats were not working properly."
However, senior Cyprus Ports Authority official Akis Artemis said the crew "deserved credit because they managed to evacuate the vessel without one single injury".
Many of the passengers stayed aboard the Victoria at Limassol because they had lost their passports and were waiting for embassy officials to arrive.
Police chief Panicos Hadjiloizou said the relevant embassies had been informed and by late afternoon all of the passengers had left the ship.
Hadjiloizou said an investigation into how the fire started had been launched immediately.
Several Cypriot coastguard vessels and a police helicopter were still attempting to put out the blaze in the late afternoon. Reports from Limassol said explosions had been heard coming from the Romantica.
The 9,500 tonne ship had already taken a 30 degree tilt by the time the two Cypriot tugs arrived at the scene to help bring the ship in.
Communications and Works Minister Leontios Ierodiaconou said he did not believe the fire was a result of arson.
He said the Romantica fulfilled all safety requirements although it had faced some problems in the past in its sewage system.
The 58-year old Romantica had only recently been fully refurbished. Company executive Nicos Anastassiades said it was unknown what had caused the fire but their first concern, he said, was the safety of passengers.
Its first voyage out of Piraeus after refurbishment following dry docking for two years, was delayed by a host of shellfish blocking the outlet pipes of the toilets on the lower decks.
Two Limassol MPs at the port yesterday said they would be raising the issue of cruise-ship safety at the House of Representatives.
 No trade until a solutionBy Charlie Charalambous
PRESIDENT Clerides has said defence issues are not negotiable unless his demilitarisation proposal is accepted.
He also clarified that trade between Greek and Turkish Cypriots could only begin after a Cyprus solution was reached.
Clerides is in New York to address the 52nd UN General Assembly and meet with UN chief Kofi Annan.
On Tuesday, Clerides will have a working breakfast with US mediator Richard Holbrooke to discuss American business investment in Cyprus.
"The Americans want to know about Cyprus' legislation regarding investments and our banking system," said Clerides yesterday.
He said Holbrooke had not given the impression that he connected this meeting, or a Brussels seminar in November for Greek and Turkish Cypriot entrepreneurs, with efforts to open trade between the two sides.
"We have repeatedly stressed that trade can only begin when a solution to the problem is reached."
Commenting on the security talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, the president said;
"For this dialogue to have a perspective it should cover basic issues on security (leading to demilitarisation)."
Clerides underlined that his proposal included the deployment of a multinational peacekeeping force, under UN Security Council auspices.
"We will never negotiate issues regarding our defence, unless a general framework leading to demilitarisation is found."
Clerides was also adamant that deployment of the S-300 missiles, expected in mid-1998, was not negotiable at this stage.
He pointed out that the peace process would need to be conducted in a more positive climate before any concessions were made.
"We never had any difficulty in creating a better climate, once the other side responded positively."
The government has informed the international community it can make no binding pledges on the Cyprus problem after October, in view of the 1998 presidential elections in February.
 Four held over night-club attacksFOUR men were arrested yesterday on suspicion of criminal acts against two club owners in Ayia Napa.
The arrests followed a series of raids by police. Those held for questioning relating to bomb attacks and shootings have been named as Larnaca lawyer Andreas Demetriou, 52, waiter Simos Charalambous, 29, from Ormidia, Paralimni social club owner Ioannis Kalopsiotis, 59, and Costas Kotas, 29, unemployed from Liopetri.
Police swoops in the Famagusta and Larnaca districts uncovered a number of offensive weapons and electronic devices which could be used to make explosives.
Altogether, the homes and property of seven men were searched, but no incriminating evidence was found against three of them.
The police said the four in custody were now helping them with their inquiries concerning cases of blackmail, firing shots and planting bombs.
The victims of this series of alleged offences were Ayia Napa club owner Pieris Christofi and his partner Andreas Hadjicharalambous.
Nightclub owner Christofi has been the target of two bomb attacks and a recent shooting incident.
In early September, explosives experts defused a bomb left outside his house near Ayia Napa.
This followed a bomb blast which wrecked his Ayia Napa nightclub on August 28.
Christofi also received threats not to continue with repairs to his bomb- wrecked club, police have said.
Police investigations are continuing.
 Cyclist killed as car door pushes him into passing carA SIXTY-eight-year-old man died in a traffic accident yesterday in Nicosia after a tragic sequence of events.
Police said Andreas Karayiannis died after he was sent flying by a car driven by Maria Michalis 32.
The man was cycling down Nikis avenue when a door from a parked car swung open and knocked him off balance.
As Karayiannis fell to the ground he was hit by the passing car and killed.
Nicosia traffic police are investigating.
 Bank of Cyprus to open Belgrade officeIN A MOVE likely to enhance its presence in the Balkans, the Bank of Cyprus - the island's leading bank - has decided to open a representative office in Yugoslavia.
A bank statement said the decision was made by the group's board on October 2. It pointed out that the decision followed a recent announcement to open a representative office in Moscow as part of what it called "the wider vision of the group to make Cyprus an international services centre."
The statement said the office in Yugoslavia would offer information and advice to Yugoslav companies planning to start offshore companies in Cyprus and to Cypriot and Greek businessmen active in the Balkans.
The Bank of Cyprus, like its main competitor the Popular Bank, is looking to Greece and the Balkans for expansion and lucrative business opportunities. Impressive half-yearly results announced by the two banks last month cited operations in Greece as being partly responsible for higher profits.
 Magazine backs up claims of Israeli security interference at airportA LOCAL magazine article has confirmed Cyprus Mail reports that Israeli security agents have free rein at Larnaca airport.
An investigative report by Selides magazine claims that Israeli agents intercept passengers and their luggage within areas of the airport which are in the sole jurisdiction of the Cyprus authorities.
The article says the presence of Israeli security has caused confusion and worry among passengers embarking for Tel Aviv.
It is claimed that, on occasion, flights to Israel have been delayed because of unauthorised checks by plain-clothes security men - widely believed to be Mossad agents.
According to eye-witness accounts given to Selides, passengers were faced with a barrage of personal questions by armed Israeli security about their planned trips to Tel Aviv.
One person said he was kept waiting for 45 minutes when he refused to tell Israeli agents who his female partner was.
Although Cyprus and Israel have a security co-operation agreement for Tel Aviv flights from Larnaca, the government has said that Israeli security has no right to question the public there.
"Their job (Israeli security) is, if they spot anything suspicious or wrong, to refer it to the relevant police authorities of the Republic," government spokesman Manolis Christofides said last month on the issue.
It is understood the increased presence of Israeli security and their activities at Larnaca airport followed the suicide bombings in Jerusalem.
Eye-witness accounts say at least eight Israeli agents patrol the passport control area and the arrival lounge.
The Israeli embassy in Nicosia has not denied reports that Israeli agents impose a hands-on approach towards passengers at Larnaca airport destined for Tel Aviv.
 Teachers from both sides call for school exchange visitsGREEK and Turkish Cypriot teachers unions yesterday called for common cultural activities and exchange visits to schools on both sides.
In a joint statement issued for World Teachers Day today, five unions - Poed and Oelmek, the two Greek Cypriot unions, and three Turkish Cypriot unions Oltek, Ktos, and Ktoeos - said they had conducted a series of meetings aiming at rapprochement between the two communities and the promotion of educational matters of interest to both sides.
"Because of the very nature of their field, teachers are considered as being the ones who should serve peace and the consolidation of brotherly relations between people and nations," the statement said.
"They believe that education is a basic human right of every child and that no one should be deprived of this. For this reason they appeal in all directions so that all the necessary facilities are provided to every child to enjoy this right."
The five unions said they would act with all the means at their disposal and with good faith to solve the problems in the "common homeland of Cyprus".
They propose common cultural activities and events with the participation of union members to promote mutual understanding and suggest exchange visits of teachers and school children.
 Haji-Ioannou threatens to take EasyJet out of LutonCYPRIOT shipping and aviation magnate Stelios Haji-Ioannou has threatened to take his expanding EasyJet airline out of Luton Airport unless he receives assurances on landing fees and a proposed new terminal.
According to Lloyds List, concerns over the cut-price airline's future at Luton have been brought into focus by Easy-Jet's order last month for 12 new Boeing 737-300 aircraft to be delivered between next August and November 1999.
The $550 million deal will triple Easy-Jet's fleet and, even if only half of the new planes are based in London, it will require Luton to build additional terminal capacity to accommodate the firm's expansion, Lloyds said.
Discussion over a new terminal have been complicated by Luton Borough Council's move to invite tenders of interest from private companies in a concession to manage the airport, including any new terminal development.
A shortlist of more than a dozen companies released a few days ago did not include the specially-formed Easy-Jet affiliate Easy-Airports.
"Our interest is purely to ensure that Luton, as a secondary airport remains substantially cheaper than Heathrow so that carriers can pass the savings on to their customers," Haji-Ioannou said.
"If the concession goes to a company which looks on the airport as a cash cow and increases landing fees, it would jeopardise Easy-Jet's success."
Haji-Ioannou said he would need to see a commitment to expand the airport's facilities "within the next two months" for there to be a realistic chance a new terminal would be ready in time for the delivery of the Boeings.
Easy-Jet has begun negotiations with Stanstead, London's other secondary airport, but is "still at the negotiating table" with Luton.
"Everything remains up for grabs and there are a range of solutions which might satisfy our needs," he said.
Since launching Easy-Jet in 1995, Haji-Ioannou has been one of Luton's leading champions but warned the airport should decide who its primary customers are going to be and then support them.
Easy-Jet, which has scheduled low-cost flights from Luton to Scotland, Amsterdam, Nice and Barcelona is shortly to bring flights from Liverpool to Europe.
The airline is also planning bases in Amsterdam and Athens in order to compete directly with KLM and Olympic Airways.
The possibility of Athens-Cyprus flights was also bandied about but authorities here say it is out of the question because of the bi-lateral agreement between Cyprus Airways and Olympic for scheduled flights.
 Rights Convention must find way to address massive violationsTHE CONTINUING occupation of the northern part of Cyprus is a classic example of the violation of human rights, Acting President and House President Spyros Kyprianou told an international seminar yesterday.
The Council of Europe seminar "The European Convention on Human Rights" held in Limassol addressed the problem of the Cyprus missing, among other issues.
Kyprianou said the violations carried out by the Turkish occupation forces in 1974 were continuing in relation to the missing and the enclaved. He said Turkish Cypriots were also suffering at the hand of the Turks.
Deputy Attorney-general Loukis Loucaides, who also addressed the seminar in his capacity as president of the Human Rights Association in Cyprus, said it was the duty of all how cared for the protection of the individual against the oppression of the powerful to fight for the improvement of the legal protection of human rights.
He said in Europe, the Convention offered the most advanced legal protection of the rights provided.
"However, although the Convention has proved effective in giving redress in cases of violations of human rights of an individual character, it has proved ineffective in respect of violations which were not isolated instances of abuse of human right but amounted to massive or organised violations," Loucaides said.
"This is the basic problem underlying the subject of the seminar, the objective of which is to examine closely the inability of the machinery of the Convention to avert or terminate large-scale continuing violations of human rights."
Others who addressed the seminar were Attorney-general Alecos Markides and Justice Minister Nicos Koshis.
 Salamina can't be written off in derby battleBy George Christou
TODAY'S clash at Ammochostos Stadium throws together two clubs from Famagusta - Salamina and Anorthosis - both of whom have maximum points after two league games.
There the similarities end. Salamina, who play at home today, are very much the poor relations. Although they have a good footballing tradition, they have always been the less well-supported of the two clubs, while cash shortages are a permanent problem.
Their ambitions are also inevitably smaller. Unlike the champions Anorthosis, they do not have the financial resources to help them build a successful squad; they have enough trouble holding on to their best players.
In the summer they lost their most promising and talented youngster, Yiannakis Okkas, to Anorthosis. Bambis Andreou and Paris Elia also moved to Anorthosis in the close season, further weakening Salamina.
Okkas, who is only 20, understandably wanted to move to a more ambitious club. But Andreou, Salamina's regular scorer, went to Anorthosis aware that he would not be guaranteed first-team football. While Okkas has scored three times in the first two games, Andreou has been assigned to the subs' bench. However, he still got a taste of European football, which would have been denied him had he stayed at the club where he began his career.
A few years ago, Salamina topped the table midway through the season. Once their best players began to get injured, though, the slide down the table began, underlining the point that without a big squad no club can go all the way. And to add insult to injury, at the end of that season, Salamina's then coach walked out because the club board had no money to spend on new players.
Champions Anorthosis face no such problems. They have by far the best squad of players, their own ground, which is regularly filled to capacity, and a successful coach who is constantly strengthening his side.
Anorthosis's improvement in the last 12 months has been so dramatic that they have given professional European sides a good run for their money. On Tuesday, they were desperately unlucky to be held to a 1-1 draw against Karlsruhe of Germany in an UEFA Cup tie in Larnaca. In the first leg in Germany they lost 2-1 to a goal scored in the last minutes of the game.
Many believe Anorthosis have become too strong for the Cyprus championship. Their first two matches, in which they scored 11 goals without reply, seem to support this view.
Then again, derbies are always hard-fought affairs and Salamina will have plenty to prove today to their wealthy relatives who lured away three of their best players in the summer.
In Limassol, Ael play their first home game since being promoted. They would undoubtedly prefer to be facing easier opponents than cup-holders Apoel.
Although they have taken maximum points, Apoel have been far from impressive and on Thursday were knocked out of the Cup Winners Cup after losing 3-0 to Sturm Graz in Austria. The long trip back after that defeat could work to Ael's advantage.
Finally, in Nicosia, Omonia will try to put last weekend's humiliating 3-0 defeat by Apollonas behind them when they meet Aek.
The Larnaca side also lost to Apollonas a week earlier. They will be hoping their trio of Brazilians, who have had a rather disappointing start to the season, will begin to perform better.
Omonia welcome back Kaiaphas, who missed the first two games through suspension, in the match that pits Brazilian flair against German commitment.
© Copyright 1997 Cyprus Mail