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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 00-06-17

Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, June 17, 2000


  • [01] Multinational force brings fires under control
  • [02] The morning after
  • [03] De Soto starts contacts with both sides
  • [04] BoC Athens rumours send the market up
  • [05] Parents pull children out of school in pollution protest
  • [06] Ecstasy trial: two tourists plead guilty, but third denies charge
  • [07] Sweltering heat a taste of the summer to come
  • [08] Fires and controversy see rally cancelled at eleventh hour
  • [09] Man shoots his dog and kills himself after little girl mauled

  • [01] Multinational force brings fires under control

    By George Psyllides

    THE DEVASTATING forest fires, raging in the south east Troodos foothills since Tuesday, were yesterday finally brought under control after reducing 40 square kilometres of vegetation to ash.

    The fire, described as the worst disaster since the 1974 Turkish invasion, was halted a whisker away from spreading into the Machairas forest, south west of Nicosia.

    The blaze was held in check by a multinational fire-fighting force of Cypriot, Greek, British, and Israeli crews.

    Fire-busting planes and helicopters from the four countries battled against the wind-assisted flames, which raced through 40 km of pine, olive, carob, and shrub-covered mountains in the Limassol and Larnaca districts.

    Most of the fires were quenched by yesterday afternoon, leaving behind an eerie lunar surface.

    Limassol District Officer Christakis Athanassiou said yesterday that although the main fires were under control, small fires were expected to re- start because of wind in the area.

    He gave his assurance that fire-fighting units would remain in the area last night and would continue to keep watch today and tackle any emergency situations.

    Athanassiou said damage to fruit trees was minimal but that a full-scale estimate of the loss was expected in the next few days.

    Larnaca District officer Kyprianos Mattheou confirmed that the big blazes were under control but expressed concern because of the winds blowing in the area.

    He stressed that all fire units were to remain in the area, ready to attack any re-emerging blazes.

    The government yesterday promised to send aid to all those who suffered damages incurred during the blaze.

    Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou also said that a full and detailed assessment of the damage would be carried out.

    Papapetrou rejected criticism that the government lacked co-ordination and adequate emergency plans.

    There were no casualties, or extensive damage to private property. Nevertheless, on Thursday nuns had to be evacuated from the Ayios Minas convent near Lefkara.

    Eleven National Guardsmen who had been fighting the fire near their camps had to be treated in Limassol hospital for smoke inhalation.

    The fire broke out between Tochni and Kalavassos on Tuesday. Firemen had thought it was under control later that day, only for it to erupt again on Wednesday, spreading rapidly to Vavla, Layia and Ora.

    On Thursday, the fire found yet new life, bearing down on Vasa, Asgata, Monagrouli and Pareklishia in the Limassol area, and Akapnou, Kato Drys, Lefkara and Vavatsinia in the Larnaca area.

    President Clerides flew over the scorched area by helicopter on Thursday morning and then chaired an emergency meeting at Kato Drys.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail 2000

    Saturday, June 17, 2000

    [02] The morning after

    By George Psyllides

    DAWN rose yesterday on a blackened ash-covered landscape, as people tried to come to terms with the worst fire the island had seen since 1974.

    A 40km area in the southeastern foothills of Troodos, between Choirokitia, Layia and Vavla, and Kalavassos, Asgata, and Sanida, looked like a colourless, grey lunar surface.

    The charred remains of trees, some still smouldering, were all that was left of forests of pines, scrub, olives and carobs.

    The trunk of a huge carob tree on the side of the road was shredded after it exploded from the intense heat.

    Most of the fire fronts had been extinguished by early yesterday morning, but a new one threatened to erupt near the village of Sanida.

    The two Greek planes called in to help on Thursday concentrated their efforts to put it out, while the weary ground crews watched and hoped for the best.

    The planes flew low, almost skimming the ground, trying to hit their targets with fire retardant materials.

    British helicopter crews also tirelessly fought the flames side-by-side with their Cypriot counterparts, while Israeli helicopters and 20 fire fighters scrambled within half an hour to help in the effort.

    With four countries involved, the blaze was stopped just before it reached the Machairas forest on Thursday night.

    Driving through the burned out landscape, we passed dozens of men -- police officers, soldiers, volunteers – exhausted and bewildered from their all- night efforts.

    But the authorities will from tomorrow have the grave task of assessing damages and responding to accusations that action came to late and lacked co-ordination.

    In a telegram to the Ambassador of Israel in Cyprus, Shemi Tzur, the Chairman of the Cyprus Israel Association conveyed on behalf of the committee and members of the association their great appreciation and sincere thanks for the Israeli Government's immediate response to Cyprus' request for assistance to fight the fires on the island.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, June 17, 2000

    [03] De Soto starts contacts with both sides

    By Jean Christou

    U.N. SPECIAL Cyprus envoy Alvaro de Soto began his contacts with both sides yesterday under a strictly imposed news blackout that no one was prepared to break.

    De Soto arrived on Thursday night less than an hour after Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said he would not rule out withdrawing from the upcoming Geneva proximity talks.

    Denktash was angered after the UN Security Council on Wednesday dropped an addendum to the renewal of Unficyp's mandate, which stated the Turkish Cypriot side’s consent to the force.

    The Greek Cypriot side said the addendum was tantamount to recognition, and threatened it would block the renewal if it was not removed.

    Denktash said he would take the matter up with De Soto during yesterday's meeting in occupied Nicosia, and then announce his response.

    The two men met for an hour between 4 and 5pm but no statements were made after the meeting, which was also attended by Turkish Cypriot officials.

    De Soto said he would say everything he had to say at a news conference in the UN-controlled Ledra Palace today.

    The purpose of his four-day visit is to prepare the ground for the Geneva talks, which are due to begin on July 5.

    According to yesterday's edition of the mainland Turkish Daily News (TDN), pulling out of the talks is understood to be Denktash's most likely option, along with cutting all contact with the Greek Cypriots.

    A stricter policy was already evident at the Turkish Cypriot checkpoint yesterday, when Greek Cypriot journalists crossed to cover Denktash's meeting with the De Soto.

    Denktash is also contemplating a ban or restrictions on the movement of Unficyp in the north, TDN said yesterday.

    Denktash told reporters on Thursday night that the talks process had been damaged and that the Security Council decision had been a grave mistake.

    Earlier yesterday, De Soto had a working breakfast with President Clerides. Again no statements were made after the two-hour meeting.

    Today, the UN envoy will have a second meeting with both leaders.

    Today's TDN quotes reliable sources as telling the paper that the Turkish Cypriot side is still weighing up its options. The sources said that some other alternatives policies had been offered to Denktash by his aides, but that no decision had yet been made.


    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, June 17, 2000

    [04] BoC Athens rumours send the market up

    By Michael Ioannou

    THE STOCKMARKET reversed days of decline to end 1.47 per cent firmer yesterday, propped up by aggressive buying in the banking sector and speculation Bank of Cyprus would get its listing in Athens soon.

    Punters pushed up the all-share index 7.5 points to a close of 517.18, having dipped in mid session to as low as 509.68 points.

    Traded values reached £39.7 million, lower from previous sessions but an indication to brokers that investors were again turning toward blue-chips and away from smaller capitalised shares.

    Banks led a new rally among sectors with a two per cent climb, but it was Bank of Cyprus which stole the thunder after newspaper reports it had received preliminary approval from Athens bourse authorities to list its share in Athens.

    Although the bank distanced itself from directly confirming the reports, its stock rallied 25 cents to a last trade of £8.30.

    Strong rumours that the bank would be suspended from trading on the domestic market, a signal that the Greek listing was imminent, surfaced late on Thursday.

    Bank of Cyprus plans to list 39 million shares on the Athens bourse.

    "The application is being examined now for some days by the Athens Stock Exchange... some clarifications have been sought and we are passing them on now," BoC financial director Yiannis Kypri said.

    "From then on we have assurances that the approval will be given very soon."

    Enthusiasm over BoC spilled over to Laiki as well, which climbed 20 cents to £12.64 while Hellenic ended flat at £2.90.

    There were smaller increases in periphery stocks, while commercial shares ended marginally lower as speculative trading which gripped the market for two weeks appeared to be fading.

    There were also more stories on the market yesterday of small investors getting burnt by entering small cap stocks on the high side in the enthusiasm to make a quick profit.

    It led to some finger pointing, but many brokers said investors were well aware of the risks.

    "There are brokerages which allow clients up to three times their deposited capital...I don't feel sorry for them," said one broker.

    Dodoni topped volume ranks with 8.1 million shares changing hands, climbing two cents to 32.8 while newcomer Pierides Electrical came second with 1.5 million shares changing hands.

    The company made its debut at £1.71 and closed at £1.63.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, June 17, 2000

    [05] Parents pull children out of school in pollution protest

    By Anthony O. Miller

    PARENTS of the 8th Elementary School pupils in Omonia outside Limassol yesterday pulled their children out of the school for the rest of the term, and said they would not register them there in September until the Nemitsas foundry smoke problem is solved.

    Bernadette Charalambous, who has children in the school, said the parents met on the school grounds yesterday morning and "closed the school" for its remaining week in session this year.

    She said the parents were furious that the government had done no more about the Nemitsas foundry smoke, which often sickens their school-age children, than to let the headmaster send the pupils home when the smoke gets so heavy they get sick.

    On Thursday, several of the parents defied police to block busy Franklin Roosevelt Avenue outside the Nemitsas foundry for half an hour to protest against the smoke, which had caused the headmaster to send their children home before 11am that same day.

    Charalambous said the parents feared that, once school is out for the summer, the foundry will pour even heavier smoke out into the atmosphere, blanketing their nearby homes with its sickening "fishy" smell, and the toxins suspected to be in it.

    Public Health Physician Dr. Andreas Georgiou said yesterday that two British scientists, brought to Cyprus to test Ergates villagers for poisons from the nearby Marios & Andreas foundry, had been in the Omonia area on Thursday and Friday exploring complaints of the residents near the foundry.

    The scientists were there, he said, in anticipation of tendering to test Omonia residents as they are now testing those in Ergates, to see how badly they have been poisoned by heavy metals and dioxin in foundry smoke.

    Meanwhile, Nemitsas Managing Director Kikis Petevis yesterday told the Cyprus Mail the foundry was spending at least £100,000 on "new equipment" from TUV-Hellas, Greek subsidiary of TUV of Germany, to bring its toxic emission levels to below EU standards.

    EU standards forbid more than 50 milligrams of dust emission per cubic metre of air expelled from smokestacks, whereas Cyprus standards permit 300mg of particulate per cubic meter of air.

    The Labour Ministry has already taken both the Nemitsas and the Marios & Andreas foundries to court for violating the higher Cyprus smokestack emission standards. The lawsuits are pending.

    Charalambous said Omonia parents planned a mass meeting on the school grounds on Tuesday to formulate action plans to force closure of the foundry.

    Petevis said it would cost "well over £25 million" for the government to close Nemitsas foundry and reimburse its owner, former Commerce Minister Takis Nemitsas.

    He also said a six-month shut-down -- as the government has imposed on the Marios & Andreas foundry, while tests are run on Ergates villagers -- would be tantamount to closing the foundry.

    Tests by Dr Michalis Voniatis have showed Ergates resident have five times the cadmium and nearly three times the lead in their blood as Nicosia residents.

    His tests also showed they had brain, kidney, pancreas and lung cancer many times the Cyprus average, and twice the Cyprus leukaemia rate. And he blames the foundry smoke for chronic lung problems in 33 per cent of Ergates children.

    Health Minister Frixos Savvides has pledged that, if the British experts conclusively prove damage to human health caused by toxins in the smoke of either the Marios & Andreas or the Nemitsas foundries, he will close them down.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, June 17, 2000

    [06] Ecstasy trial: two tourists plead guilty, but third denies charge

    THREE British men held on suspicion of possessing drugs were yesterday re- remanded in custody until Wednesday because of confusion surrounding the charges.

    The Famagusta district court, sitting in Larnaca, heard that two of the defendants wished to plead guilty and be sentenced, whereas the third wanted to plead not guilty and stand trial.

    The judge refused to proceed with the hearing because all three names appeared on the same charge sheet.

    John Paddington, 32, and 28-year-old Craig Dykes, pleaded guilty to possessing 99 Ecstasy tablets after being arrested in Ayia Napa early in May.

    The third man, Kevin O'Brien, 32, denied the charges against him, which include possession and trafficking of 2,100 tablets.

    Andrew Klydes, speaking for the defence, explained after the hearing that the charges included one for possession of a single tablet, another for joint possession of 99, and a third for possession of 2,000.

    Police however, have yet to find the 2,000 tablets allegedly possessed by O'Brien, Klydes said.

    "I know it is very complicated," he said. "I had hoped the judge would agree to dealing with Paddington and Dykes today, and O'Brien at a later stage but he declined to do so."

    The three men seemed indifferent to their continued detention, laughing and joking outside the courtroom before being led away to jail.

    All three said that conditions at the prison were fine, but complained that the heat during the night was unbearable.

    "It's boring during the day and too hot in the cells at night, but at least we watch television and see the Euro 2000 games," O'Brien said.

    When they appear next Wednesday, their lawyer said, there was no guarantee Paddington and Dykes would be sentenced.

    "The judge may decide to set a date for that, and another for the trial of O'Brien. We'll just have to wait and see," he added.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, June 17, 2000

    [07] Sweltering heat a taste of the summer to come

    THE RISE in temperature over recent days is the overture to what promises to be a long summer.

    "The summer in Cyprus is always long and hot," said Cleanthis Philaniotis, director of the National Weather service. He assured the Cyprus Mail that the recent temperatures, while higher than normal, were in no way unusual.

    For the past five days, the average top temperature in Nicosia has notched up to 37 degrees Celsius -- three degrees higher than the normal average for June.

    There are three heat-related factors to which human beings are sensitive: temperature, humidity and wind speed. "While on one had we have very low humidity, we have stagnant air with almost no breeze," Philaniotis said. It is the lack of wind, he explained, which has compounded the summer heat.

    He said that, statistically, temperatures were bound to rise over the course of the summer, reaching a peak during the months of July and August.

    Over the weekend, however, the weather service predicts a gradual cooling down.

    With regards to the forest fires that have raged out of control in the southeast Troodos foothills, Philaniotis said that dry vegetation was always at risk during the hot months, when fire could ignite easily, either by chance or human carelessness.

    In order to alleviate suffering as we spiral into the intense heat of the months ahead, local doctors have issued important public safety recommendations.

    If you need to go out in the daytime, then you are strongly advised to wear a hat with light, loose clothing. Do not sunbathe.

    Medical experts warn against heavy exercise or overexertion at midday. Instead they encourage members of the public to adopt a slower pace when going about their daily activities.

    As for diet, the only favours come in sticking to light foods like fruit and vegetables. Avoid chocolates, fatty foods and alcohol.

    Since it is absolutely imperative to prevent dehydration, swilling down at least nine to ten glasses of water a day should help.

    While at home, remember to switch on air conditioners and fans in order to cool down your body heat.

    Doctors also stress that people with certain medical conditions should take extra care, especially diabetics, heart and kidney patients, as well as those who suffer from respiratory problems.

    Adults are advised to keep a watchful eye on children and the elderly to ensure that they follow these guidelines.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, June 17, 2000

    [08] Fires and controversy see rally cancelled at eleventh hour

    By Rosie Ogden

    THE INTERNATIONAL Cyprus Tour Rally, which had been due to be run this weekend from Nicosia, was cancelled at the eleventh hour yesterday afternoon.

    The organisers of the event, which counts towards the Middle East Championship, saw off a challenge in the courts yesterday, only to be confounded in their attempt to hold the rally when the police – stretched to the limits by this week’s spate of disastrous forest fires – withdrew their licence.

    The fate of the rally had hung in the balance when the Sporting Committee, the Cyprus Automobile Association (CAA) and its secretary Takis Kyriakides were summoned to appear in court yesterday morning to answer charges brought by the Drivers’ Association (Sosak), that they were ineligible to organise the event.

    The case went on till mid afternoon, delaying the start of scrutineering – the technical check of all cars entered for the event – which finally got under way when the verdict was handed down.

    It didn’t take long: only six crews – three from Cyprus and three from the Middle East -- presented themselves, and the rally looked set to break two records: the first event in Cyprus to boast half its competitors from abroad, and the smallest ever entry for an international rally.

    Six local crews registered for the rally failed to show for scrutineering, fuelling rumours that Sosak had brought pressure to bear on drivers who hadn’t joined their boycott of the event.

    The organisers’ jubilation at their vindication in the courts was short- lived. They had already cancelled several special stages that ran through the area ravaged by the forest fires, but without the permission of the police and the assistance of fire department – both of which had still to contend with the aftermath of the infernos – security on the rally would be compromised and the organisers had no choice but to cancel the event.

    © Copyright Cyprus Mail

    Saturday, June 17, 2000

    [09] Man shoots his dog and kills himself after little girl mauled

    A FATHER of three and shot his dog and then himself after the animal badly mauled the six-year-old daughter of a close friend, police said yesterday.

    Polydoros Schizas, 52, a Strovolos shop owner, was found on his Strovolos farm by his wife, son and father-in-law.

    Police told the Cyprus Mail they believed he had shot his dog then killed himself after the attack on the child.

    The girl required a four-hour operation to try to repair severe facial injuries she sustained when bitten about the face and head by Schizas' dog on Wednesday while playing with other neighbourhood children.

    Police said Schizas was told to take his dog to a vet to see if it was suffering from rabies.

    They said he left on Thursday morning to comply, but when he failed to return, his wife went to their farm with one of her children and her father in-law to look for him.

    The said the relatives found Schizas and his dog lying dead in a pool of blood next to Schizas' shotgun.

    Police yesterday said they were still investigating the matter.

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