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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 01-09-04

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

From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, September 4, 2001


  • [01] Barnard probably killed by asthma attack
  • [02] Police vow to stamp out bikers' anarchy
  • [03] Poor maintenance blamed for balcony collapse
  • [04] Government urges EAC to pull the plug on billboards
  • [05] South Africans accused after airport drugs seizure
  • [06] We're still using too much water, minister warns

  • [01] Barnard probably killed by asthma attack

    PIONEERING heart surgeon Christian Barnard suffered a severe asthma attack the night before collapsing by the poolside of a luxury Cyprus hotel and dying, his agent said yesterday. Barnard, 78, died after falling unconscious in sweltering heat at the Coral Bay hotel Paphos on Sunday.

    Health officials initially said the doctor, who shot to fame overnight with the world's first human heart transplant in Cape Town, South Africa, may have suffered a cardiac arrest.

    But witnesses quoted by his agent said they saw Barnard grappling with an asthma inhaler moments before losing consciousness.

    Bystanders, including a Cypriot doctor, rushed to his aid but he failed respond to any attempts to revive him.

    "A waitress said he tried to get some breath and was trying to get to his spray. He found his spray and was grabbing it with his hands but he couldn't get it to the mouth," said Walter Lutschinger, Barnard's agent.

    "He also had a bad asthma attack the night before during dinner," he told Reuters. Barnard was always afraid of leaving his inhaler behind.

    "He would get very nervous and panic," said Lutschinger. The poolside asthma attack could have been brought on by sweltering heat and humidity and a morning swim, he said.

    A post mortem was scheduled this morning at Paphos general hospital to give a conclusive cause of death, Lutschinger said.

    Lutschinger said he hoped to be able to fly Barnard's body home to Cape Town within the next two days.

    He said he was making arrangements on behalf of Barnard's family, who were not planning on travelling to Cyprus.

    Barnard, a frequent visitor to Cyprus, had arrived last Thursday for a seven-day break ahead of a tour of Germany and the United States where he was to promote his new book, Fifty ways to a Healthy Heart.

    He had recently travelled to Israel for a television show, Crete and Brussels before briefly stopping off in Vienna last Wednesday night.

    "He just stayed overnight. He said he wanted to come here (Cyprus) alone, just to relax a little bit and get ready for the promotional tour," said Lutschinger.

    Barnard made medical history in December 1967 with the world's first human heart transplant on Louis Washkansky.

    The 53-year-old grocer lived for another 18 days before dying of pneumonia.

    Barnard, who was a regular visitor to Cyprus, was granted Greek citizenship in 1993 for being a well-known Philhellene - a distinction that has only been granted to six people worldwide since 1821.

    He was renowned for performing free surgical services to all his patients and for treating many elderly Greeks and young children in South Africa free of charge.

    Barnard's funeral will be held in Beaufort West, Cape Town, where he was born.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [02] Police vow to stamp out bikers' anarchy

    By George Psyllides

    THE Famagusta Police Director yesterday vowed to stamp out anarchy in the area after Sunday's mini-riot in the village of Liopetri where yobs attacked police and sent seven of them to hospital.

    Police officers of the rapid reaction unit and the traffic department's `Z' squad were attacked in Liopetri's main square by around 100 youths who hurled stones and other objects.

    Seven officers were hurt during the fracas, police said.

    Residents of the village said police had provoked the youths, but the area's Police Director Christakis Katsikidis said his officers were carrying out routine checks on motorcyclists, who apparently caused a lot of trouble in the area.

    Speaking at a news conference yesterday, Katsikidis stressed that police would not allow anarchy to prevail in Liopetri or anywhere else.

    He said it was the police's duty to carry out checks, but unfortunately a small number of youths from Liopetri had reacted angrily and pelted police officers with stones and other missiles.

    Katsikidis said the area had the highest percentage of fatal motorcycle accidents, and it was not the first time that innocent people's lives had been endangered by these youths.

    According to the Famagusta police director, hundreds of motorcycles are driven without registration plates.

    Gangs, he said, stole motorcycles and broke them up into pieces, using them to create custom-made bikes.

    Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou said he was saddened by the incident, acknowledging that in a few of the area's villages, some youths had taken the law into their own hands, creating an anarchic situation that put other people's lives at risk, as well as their own.

    "No one is above the law. The law is for all the citizens of the Republic of Cyprus and should be enforced without discrimination," Christodoulou said.

    The Interior Minister promised to look into the incident and co-operate with local authorities to avoid similar incidents.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [03] Poor maintenance blamed for balcony collapse

    By George Psyllides

    THE INTERIOR Minister yesterday said the 1999 earthquake was not to blame for the collapse of two balconies at a Limassol apartment block on Friday.

    No one was injured during the fall, but a car was crushed by large pieces of cement from the balconies, which collapsed without warning.

    The 35 residents of the six-floor central Limassol apartment block had to be evacuated after the collapse, as the building was deemed dangerous.

    The incident happened at 5pm on Friday when the fifth floor balcony fell, dragging down the fourth floor balcony in its fall.

    State and local authority experts said the balconies had collapsed because the metal structure inside the concrete had rotted while the bond to the main building was insufficient.

    Yesterday Interior Minister Christodoulos Christodoulou inspected the building, where crews from the Damage Restoration Service have already began the construction of new balconies.

    In the second phase of the project, during which the residents are expected to return to their homes, crews will reinforce the building's columns, which have also showed signs of deterioration according to civil engineers who inspected the building.

    Christodoulou said the August 1999 earthquake was not to blame for the damage on the building, but it had helped in bringing out its shortcomings.

    He said, however, that despite repeated pleas by the district administration and the Damage Restoration Service, the building's more than 25 owners apparently did nothing to improve the block.

    Any decision would have been complicated by the fact it needed consent from all the owners, some of whom live abroad.

    Christodoulou said it was not the job of the state or the municipality to pay for work done on private property, but it was their responsibility to identify problematic buildings - of which there were many - and inform their owners about their condition.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [04] Government urges EAC to pull the plug on billboards

    THE GOVERNMENT yesterday asked the Electricity Authority (EAC) to stop providing electricity for advertising billboards until the situation concerning their legality had been cleared. Communications Minister Averoff Neophytou yesterday morning met with EAC General Manager Costas Ioannou to discuss billboards, which litter virtually main traffic arteries on the island.

    The ministry was now looking to sort out the problem created by municipalities selling advertising companies the right to install signs in areas under their jurisdiction.

    Neophytou has already ordered the removal of all illegal billboards, and told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that the status of the signs would be sorted out by the end of this month.

    But the government's apparent determination to clear the roads may be hindered by the fact that most municipalities have signed agreements with advertising companies, which are not likely to go down without a fight.

    The government is expected to submit legislation on the issue for approval by the House in October, hoping to make the removal of hoardings easier.

    The minister said he had asked the EAC to stop giving electricity to any of the advertising companies unless they have the necessary permissions from all departments, including the Public Works Department (PWD).

    The PWD vehemently opposes the signs and wants them all removed.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [05] South Africans accused after airport drugs seizure

    A SOUTH African couple were yesterday remanded in custody for eight days suspected of smuggling cannabis in a tape recorder. Twenty-year-olds Chrysos Ksekalos and his girlfriend Yiolandi Vardegiver were arrested at Larnaca airport on Sunday night.

    The court heard the couple had gone to Larnaca airport at 10pm on Sunday to pick up a package allegedly containing cakes sent by Vardegiver's mother.

    The pair presented the necessary documents and picked up a black bag.

    Customs officers, however, checked the contents of the bag and found around half a kilogram of cannabis stashed in the speakers of a tape recorder, police said.

    The drug squad arrested the two suspects, who claimed they had nothing to do with the drugs.

    They said only the cakes and a jacket belonged to them.

    Police said customs officers got suspicious because the fees paid for the package did not justify the contents.

    The police investigator told the court that, according to the documents, the sender of the bag was not Vardegiver's mother.

    The suspects claimed the stash instead belonged to an English Cypriot man who had stayed with them in Ayia Napa.

    Police, however, said the man had already left the island.

    The court heard police were investigating the possibility that a drug ring channelling illegal substances onto the island might be behind the package.

    It emerged after the arrest that Verdegiver was on the island illegally, and had been staying with Ksekalos for a month.

    Ksekalos asked the court for leniency, arguing that eight days in custody were too many.

    "If possible, can't we make them four so that we can pack our stuff and leave, since we've already booked our flight," he said.

    Judge Lemonia Kaoudjani said there was reason to suspect the couple were indeed linked to the drugs and ordered their remand for eight days.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

    [06] We're still using too much water, minister warns

    CONSUMERS are guzzling 10 litres of water more a day than the 150 litre per person target set by the government, Agriculture Minister Costas Themistocleous said yesterday. The minister was presenting statistics on water usage and availability at the end of the summer.

    Themistocleous said that although there had been a surge in water consumption since the reintroduction of continuous water supplies earlier this year, there would be no return to the regime of cuts. However, he warned the public that water consumption would have to be cut down.

    Government figures set the average water consumption for the island at 150 litres per head per day, but Cypriots are using 160 litres each a day.

    Statistics showed the water boards had achieved total water supply to households this summer, compared to just 70 per cent last year.

    Water supply for agricultural use increased from 34 per cent last year to 48 per cent this year.

    Themistocleous said a total of 32,480,000 cubic meters of water were available in the dams. Despite teething problems with the new Larnaca desalination plant, supplies from dams and reservoirs - which are twice as full as they were at the same time last year - have covered the shortfall.

    Copyright Cyprus Mail 2001

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