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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-09-01

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Saturday, September 1, 2001


  • [01] Baby better but Bases face tough questions over ambulance crash
  • [02] Cabinet will crack down on future co-op misdemeanours
  • [03] Rolandis confirms petrol merger to go ahead
  • [04] Drowned Briton had not hired pedalo
  • [05] CY accepts mediation plan, engineers still stalling
  • [06] 80km/h stretch of Ayia Napa road to be upgraded to motorway
  • [07] De Soto meets Denktash
  • [08] CY warn they could pull out of Olympic deal
  • [09] Balconies collapse in Limassol, car crushed
  • [10] Tourists called to report bird trappers
  • [11] Ships collide in Limassol port

  • [01] Baby better but Bases face tough questions over ambulance crash

    By Jennie Matthew

    A BRITISH BASES enquiry into an ambulance accident that hurled a new born baby onto the tarmac on Wednesday looks set to wait until a full police investigation has been wrapped up.

    But the National Director of the National Association of Private Ambulance Services in the UK, Peter Littledyke, yesterday told the Cyprus Mail that the Bases could face libel action for negligence.

    Five-day-old Iwan Williams was on his way back to the Princess Mary Hospital in Akrotiri after a stint at the specialist baby unit at the Makarios Hospital in Nicosia when the British military ambulance burst a tyre and flipped.

    He was thrown out of his incubator onto the tarmac. He is now back in the Makarios and doctors say the next week or two are crucial to determine whether he will suffer any permanent injuries.

    Dr Andreas Hadjidemetriou, director of the intensive care baby unit, said Iwan was stable and responding to treatment.

    "He even took a small amount of milk from a bottle," he told the Cyprus Mail yesterday.

    But it seems the Bases will delay launching their own enquiry until the Cyprus police investigation is completed.

    "Because of the ongoing police investigation, a board of enquiry may convene, but it could then be suspended because the one might prejudice the other and obviously the Cyprus police case is the priority," said Bases spokesman Rob Need.

    Police said yesterday that the ambulance driver, 43-year-old Andreas Georgiou, had not been drinking, but they refused to say whether he had been speeding.

    The Bases refused to discuss safety installations within the ambulance ahead of their board of enquiry, but Littledyke said it was impossible to strap a child down in an incubator, even if the unit was secured to the trolley cot or floor.

    Instead he said an internal inquiry should ask why the accident happened, why the ambulance rolled and whether there was a fault in the tyre that caused it to burst.

    "There's not way you can tie a child down, it's just one of those unfortunately things. Incubators are not really built for transportation. If you dropped a weight on top it would probably crack or shatter. I'd be looking at how the driver lost control and why the tyre burst," he told the Cyprus Mail.

    Confirming that white British military and civilian ambulances were equipped in exactly the same way, he also said MOT-style tests on ambulances were far more stringent than on private cars.

    Speaking about the possibility of a lawsuit against the military authorities, he referred to an ongoing case of an American woman suing Britain's National Health Service for 1.5 million.

    She had fractured ribs and was travelling in an ambulance, when it crashed, leaving her paralysed.

    The report blamed the force of the accident on inadequate tyre replacements - which were too thin to carry its load.

    Her claim of 1.5 million is to cover the cost of palliative care in the US for the rest of her life.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Cabinet will crack down on future co-op misdemeanours

    TRANSGRESSIONS by co-operative members are to be dealt with more severely in the future, with offenders even taken to trial, the Cabinet has advised. Yesterday's announcement by the Cabinet condemned the "irregularities" in co-ops established by a government committee appointed by Industry Minister Nicos Rolandis. It went on to urge Rolandis to push forward legislation that would make unauthorised borrowing by co-op members a criminal offence. Lax control and practices so far have meant that such transgressions have only been treated as misdemeanours.

    Although the commission's findings led to the resignation of five officials, no further legal action was taken.

    One of the high-profile names that came up in the allegations was that of Nicos Pittokopitis, a DIKO deputy and chairman of the Paphos Co-op's board of directors.

    The commission had their work cut out tracing the 1 million gone missing from a number of co-operatives. The new laws to come into force will provide for closer scrutiny of the finances of co-op members and officials and is intended make borrowing and overdraft drawing more complicated.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Rolandis confirms petrol merger to go ahead

    By Elias Hazou

    A MERGER of the local branches of the Mobil and Esso petrol companies was officially announced yesterday, after a last-minute meeting between Commerce Minister Nicos Rolandis and representatives of the interested companies.

    The decision to allow the merger was taken on Thursday by the Cabinet, which set out conditions in a bid to safeguard healthy competition in the fuel supply sector.

    The Cabinet's go-ahead for the sale of 22 Mobil petrol stations to BP, a deal facilitating the Esso-Mobil merger, was on condition that 15 other pump stops be made available to another company.

    Rolandis yesterday clarified that the company to be offered the 15 petrol stations was not currently active in Cyprus, mentioning TEXACO, LOUKOIL and CYPOIL as possible newcomers into the business.

    A tenders' competition is to be initiated, and the selling company has six months in which to find a buyer. The terms of the deal will have to ensure that the new company's sales are not less than 15 times the average of the petrol stations to be sold.

    Mobil and Esso will also be required to provide other facilities to the newcomer, which will be subject to all local petrol sector regulations.

    Although the decision was made Thursday, the announcement and the details followed a meeting yesterday between Rolandis and representatives of petroleum companies.

    The Commerce Minister confirmed that there had been some reaction by "the interested parties" to the scope of the project, but was quick to add that it was not the government's intention to set up a "petroleum giant" on the island.

    Addressing concerns over market monopoly, the deal further provides that the new company's pump stops must be concentrated in two or more districts on the island.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Drowned Briton had not hired pedalo

    By Jennie Matthew

    THE YOUNG British man who drowned off Nissi Beach on Thursday afternoon had not hired the pedalo that capsized, but instead took it out to sea with three friends after they found it abandoned by a previous customer.

    It was Shaun Williams's first day on holiday in Ayia Napa after he arrived in a group of about 20 for a week's holiday on Wednesday.

    The 21-year-old from London and his friends Lisa Harris, 20, Claire Downes, 20, and Damien Philips, 21, set out in the pedalo at some time around 3pm.

    None of them were wearing lifejackets. Witnesses said the sea was very rough.

    The craft was about 100 metres from Nissi Beach when it suddenly capsized in huge waves.

    One of Shaun's friends told police he last saw Shaun about 2.5 metres underneath the water, but assumed he was carrying on swimming behind him.

    When the other three arrived back at the beach and realised Shaun wasn't with them, they raised the alarm.

    Police launched a search. Coastguard vessels and a helicopter patrolled the bay, but a driver retrieved his body on the seabed about five metres under the surface at about 6.50pm - close to where the accident had happened.

    The man's mother was believed to have flown to Cyprus yesterday to take the body back to the UK following the autopsy at Larnaca General Hospital.

    One eyewitness report said the pedalo flipped over in very rough sea and that Shaun's head seemed to hit his head when it turned.

    But state pathologist Sophocles Sophocleous told the Cyprus Mail there were no abrasions to the head.

    Police sources said Shaun had drunk a lot of water that day, a fact that would have made it difficult for his to swim in rough sea.

    The sea at Nissi Beach was full of swimmers and people on pedalos in the mid afternoon on Thursday, despite the choppy waves.

    The diver who pulled the body out of the water told the Cyprus Mail that he hadn't seen any red flag on Nissi Beach warning people not to get into the water that afternoon.

    "His friends told us he was missing and we started looking. I took the diving equipment and went into the water. Then I found him," said Anura Dammik from Lucky Divers.

    He said lifeguard patrols of the packed Nissi Beach were excellent. They are positioned in watchtowers, jet-skis and boat patrols.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] CY accepts mediation plan, engineers still stalling

    By Melina Demetriou

    CYPRUS Airways management yesterday accepted a government mediation proposal aiming to resolve a promotions dispute with the company's engineers.

    But Cyprus Airways (CY) engineers, who had promised to give their verdict on the proposal by yesterday after extending an August 20 deadline, said yesterday they were still not ready to give their response.

    CY engineers' union ASYSEKA yesterday called its members to cast their votes on the proposal on Monday.

    The union has warned that if engineers vote down the proposal its members could go on strike immediately.

    The proposal was tabled by Labour Minister Andreas Moushiouttas earlier this month in a bid to resolve a promotions dispute pending since 1995.

    The engineers abandoned work for two hours on July 20, grounding CY flights and leaving passengers stranded at the height of the tourist season.

    Earlier in the day, Moushiouttas had been adamant the government would not give the engineers more time to make up their minds.

    "If we don't receive their response today, then we will take it as a 'no' since we have given them a lot of time to study the proposal," Moushiouttas said.

    ASYSEKA's chairman Simos Loizou said yesterday the union was not ready to position itself on the proposal. He said the union had asked the ministry to give it further clarification on the proposal since, "the clarification already given on certain aspects is inadequate".

    Cyprus Airways chairman Charis Loizides yesterday announced that the company had accepted the government proposal "for the sake of working peace and to demonstrate good will, despite some elements of the proposal which made it very difficult for us to accept".

    Loizides expressed the hope that engineers would also accept the proposal.

    "Despite the fact that the agreement will burden us financially, it will increase productivity and make both sides happy," he said.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] 80km/h stretch of Ayia Napa road to be upgraded to motorway

    THE new four-lane Dhekelia to Ayia Napa road is to be upgraded to a motorway, which is, police say, what most motorists mistakenly thought it was all along.

    Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou yesterday chaired a meeting to discuss the problematic road, whose 80 km/hour speed limit has been catching out an unusual number of drivers.

    The road looks like one of the island's many motorways, where the speed limit is 100 km/hour, but it does not have a hard shoulder and so cannot safely accommodate vehicles moving at over 80 km/hour.

    After yesterday's meeting, Neophytou said the government had decided to save traffic police and drivers a lot of bother and turn the Dhekelia to Ayia Napa road into a motorway.

    "The road from Dhekelia to the free Famagusta area is to be upgraded to a motorway," the minister said. "We are, in this way, sending a positive message to our fellow countrymen: Very soon, they will not be endangering themselves on this road due to its imperfections and will not have to pay a fine when they go at over 80 km/hour," he said.

    Neophytou said he hoped the whole upgrading issue would have been sorted out by October.

    Yesterday's meeting was attended by Larnaca and Famagusta area deputies, representatives of local authorities and union leaders.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [07] De Soto meets Denktash

    By Melina Demetriou

    U.N. SPECIAL envoy to Cyprus Alvaro de Soto yesterday held his first meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash since flying in to the island on Wednesday.

    Denktash said before the meeting that, "it is time for the Greek Cypriots to realise that the solution of the Cyprus Problem will result from an agreement between the two sides".

    The Peruvian envoy met with President Glafcos Clerides yesterday evening for the third time since his arrival in Cyprus.

    Addressing his daily briefing yesterday morning, Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou described as "extreme, provocative and unacceptable" statements made by Denktash this week that Greek Cypriots should "forget" the occupied town of Kyrenia and relinquish hopes of returning to their homes if a settlements was to be reached.

    Papapetrou stressed that, "If Denktash returns to talks on the Cyprus Problem putting forward such ideas and positions, it is more that certain that there will be no progress."

    The Government Spokesman said it was obvious the Turkish Cypriot leader was trying "to force the Greek Cypriot side to make the wrong moves by putting forward preconditions relating to the process of the talks, something that will facilitate him and will ease international pressure put on him, because he has torpedoed the process of talks".

    Papapetrou vowed that the Greek Cypriot side would not facilitate Denktash in his aims

    The Government Spokesman reiterated that the government would not accept derogations from the EU acquis communautaire that would contradict the spirit and the letter of the acquis, adding that the government believed that UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan's oral remarks last November advocated this position as well.

    Denktash this week reiterated his support for a settlement based on a loose confederation between two states rather than the bi-communal, bi-zonal arrangement favoured by the government and the international community.

    De Soto is due to have three more timetabled meetings with Denktash and three with Clerides before his return to New York on September 5.

    De Soto's visit is being seen as a chance for the UN sponsored proximity talks to break out of nine months of deadlock.

    The process has been stalled since Denktash abandoned negotiations over demands for political equality.

    The UN envoy keeps a strict news blackout during his shuttling between the two sides but will brief the media about the outcome of his contacts before his departure on Wednesday.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [08] CY warn they could pull out of Olympic deal

    By Jennie Matthew

    CYPRUS Airways could pull out of the race to buy Greek national carrier Olympic unless Athens reassures them that the latest two-month delay doesn't leave them high and dry.

    Yesterday was the day when Olympic were supposed to tell Cyprus Airways (CY) whether they intended to pursue their consortium offer after concluding talks with rival front-runner Axon Airlines. Negotiations between the Greek government and Axon ran into trouble last month and Olympic told Nicosia they wanted to give Axon another two months to try and shore up an agreement.

    CY have already revised their offer once to meet demands ordered by the Greek government, which is desperate to get rid of the troubled airline. Athens is prevented from pumping any more cash into Olympic because of European Union regulations.

    Only if talks with Axon fall through will Olympic consider the rival bid from the CY consortium, which includes Alitalia, the Greek-American chairman of the Red Apple Group John Catsimatidis, and Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide.

    CY yesterday denied that they were abandoning the deal, but they were unable to disguise their anger at being kept hanging - a delay which they say could jeopardise the terms of the original deal.

    "It will be the beginning of November before they come to us, and that'll take another I don't know how long. The whole thing is becoming ridiculous, " said CY spokesman Tassos Angelis.

    "We're not pulling out. We're interested in remaining in, but the fact that they're taking too long changes things and we need to safeguard our interests."

    CY claim that a potential handover in early 2002, just months before the April write-off of 11 Olympic planes, would put new management in a nightmare scenario. Axon's troubles are reported to stem from similar concerns - namely restructured flight schedules, labour contracts, landing fees, the shaved fleet and changes to the new international Athens airport at Spata.

    "The new proprietor will have to operate with 11 aircraft less. The new year is not the time to lease or purchase new planes, nor draw up new flight schedules. Then what about the staff and where do we fly to?" said Angelis.

    The company yesterday wrote to Credit Suisse First Boston in London (the bank handling the deal on behalf of the Greek government) asking them to clarify the situation. "We mentioned our worries and we want some safeguards. If they're prepared to take these into account then we'll decide to renew our offer," the CY spokesman said.

    But if no reassurances are given, then CY say they will have no choice but to pull out.

    Both Axon and the CY consortium have offered to buy 51 per cent of the company - CY for 30-40 million and Axon for nearly twice that figure. CY say they will retain 5,500 staff and Axon 4,000.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [09] Balconies collapse in Limassol, car crushed

    By Melina Demtriou

    AN apartment block in Limassol was evacuated yesterday after two of its balconies collapsed crushing a car. Fortunately, no one was hurt.

    A balcony on the fifth floor of the block in central Limassol collapsed at about 5pm and fell on to a fourth floor balcony -- both them crashed to the ground.

    The fall damaged a car parked in front of the Ayios Andreas six-floor apartment block on Zena Kanther Road.

    The accident shocked the block's 35 residents. Police, an ambulance and the Fire Brigade rushed to the scene, as did Limassol Mayor Demetris Kondides.

    The state technical services department evacuated the building for safety reasons and banned access to the building. Department experts said they would examine whether the building was safe for habitation and would be able to say today whether residents could move back in.

    The mayor said the apartment block had not been included in the government's list of buildings which needed renovation or repairing.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [10] Tourists called to report bird trappers

    By Martin Hellicar

    WILDLIFE conservation groups are trying an original tack in tackling the illegal but widespread bird trapping that snares millions of migrant birds on the island every year.

    Police and game fund efforts to stamp out the cruel practice of setting lime sticks and mist nets have had little impact, and the Cyprus Conservation Foundation and the Cyprus Ornithological Society are now trying to enlist the help of the hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists who visit the island every year.

    Starting today, the CCF and COS are placing adverts in the Cyprus Mail inviting any tourist who spots a mist net or lime stick to immediately contact the Game Service or their nearest police station. "We need your help to stop illegal bird trapping," the organisations are telling tourists.

    The banned bird trapping is most widespread in the popular tourist resorts of Paralimni, Protaras and Ayia Napa, and the conservation groups are banking on the flood of tourists to help protect the flood of migrants, many of them protected species, that fall foul to trappers every year.

    The CCF and COS advert also contains a warning to tourists not to try to destroy lime sticks or mist nets themselves, or to free trapped birds. "Please do not interfere with nets or lime sticks yourself, as this might provoke retaliation," the advert states. Birdwatchers have often reported being threatened or beaten up by bird trappers after they tried to intervene to stop the slaughter.

    An estimated 12 million birds fall foul to the nets and lime sticks every year.

    Once a relatively small-scale traditional practice, bird trapping has now become a high-tech, multi-million-pound clandestine industry fuelled by the high price the caught birds fetch as ambelopoulia delicacies in local tavernas.

    During the main Autumn migration season, trappers home in on the southeastern corner of the island, where migrant birds congregate. At Cape Greco, Paralimni and Cape Pyla - within the Dhekelia British base - lime sticks and nets are set on a massive scale, making every bush a bird death trap in some areas. Tape recording of bird song is played from speakers placed in bushes to attract passing migrants to a slow death tangled in a net or stuck fast to a lime stick. Black-caps and other migrant warblers are the favourite quarry, but the trapping technique is totally indiscriminate, even snaring owls and birds of prey. The birds are pickled or boiled and sold for a high price as a favourite delicacy in local tavernas.

    Though the practice has been banned since 1974, trappers act with impunity, apparently confident they will never be prosecuted.

    The government Game Fund and the Dhekelia bases police launched their first joint anti-poaching campaign in the Cape Pyla are last Autumn and have vowed to continue the fight against the bird trappers.

    But the CCF and COS fear the handful of arrests made by bases police and government game wardens have little effect. Conservationists argue that the fines usually imposed for bird trapping are not an adequate deterrent against a practice that can net a poacher thousands of pounds a year.

    Despite being illegal, the bird slaughter is openly supported by some deputies and local government officials, who say it is a traditional practice that should be allowed to continue.

    The illegal bird cull attracted much negative publicity for Cyprus in Britain last Autumn, after a number of British papers ran articles on the cruel practice. Nicosia has since come under pressure from the EU to take action against the bird trapping and Justice Minister Nicos Koshis has vowed to stamp it out.

    Though game wardens appear determined to fight the trappers, both bases and Cyprus police admit they cannot make tackling nets and lime sticks a top priority.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [11] Ships collide in Limassol port

    PORT authorities are investigating how two ships managed to collide in Limassol port yesterday morning. Under circumstances that are still unclear, a Georgian flagged container ship, the Epsilon Kyriacos, crashed into a Panamanian registered cargo, the MSC Jasmine that was docked on the western jetty, as it was trying to enter the port at 7.15am.

    The MSC Jasmine had a cargo of toxic chemicals on board, and fire fighters rushed to the scene in case of spillage. Initial investigations, however, showed that none of the containers on board were damaged.

    Port police say that the accident was caused either by human error or by mechanical failure as the Georgian ship was speeding despite warnings from port officials.

    The Epsilon Kyriacos suffered considerably damage to its bow, while the MSC Jasmine was slightly damaged on its stern.

    Limassol port police and the Merchant Shipping Department are investigating the matter.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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