|Friday, 14 August 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-08-24
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Monday, 24 August 2009 Issue No: 3278
 Wildfires rage across NE Attica prefectureA multi-front wildfire raged northeast of the greater Athens area on Sunday fuelled by gusty winds, as smoke filled the air over the Greek capital, while flames neared residential areas in Athens' leafier northern suburbs. While dozens of residences, mostly country homes, were burned, no casualties were reported.
On Saturday, with winds gusting up to 7 on the Beaufort scale the Greek fire brigade announced an unprecedented 83 small to large wildfires around the country, including an initially menacing blaze east of Karystos on southern-most Evia island, four separate wildfires on the Ionian island of Zakynthos, two wildfires on the island of Skyros, in central Viotia prefecture and a fire in the Dymis municipality outside the western port city of Patras. Meanwhile, a new press release on Sunday morning reported 65 forest fires of various sizes and intensity around the country since 6:30 a.m. (04:30 GMT).
Later in the afternoon fronts were reported near the Pallini township in eastern Attica prefecture and further south near the town of Markopoulo and the Kalyvia site, as newly erupted wildfires were being added to the ongoing blazes. The recent spate of wildfires began on Thursday, with a wildfire erupting in the Magoula district of industrial western Attica prefecture.
The worst wildfire fronts by the early evening were in the Kalentzi district just east of Lake Marathon, Varnavas and Pallini, east of Athens proper. The firestorm that rushed through the Aghios Stefanos municipality, north of Athens and Mount Dionysos, was ebbing towards nightfall. Conflicting reports had earlier referred to an evacuation of Aghios Stefanos, a residential and commercial centre some 35 kilometres north of downtown Athens.
In the late afternoon on Sunday, Greek Police's (EL.AS) headquarters urged returning holiday-makers to avoid using the northern highways leading into Athens unless absolutely necessary, in order to facilitate fire brigade operations in regions north of the city.
According to reports on Sunday, a total of 130 fire engines, 26 military vehicles, some 500 fire-fighters aided by 340 troops, 20 aircraft, along with 30 water tankers and more than 500 vehicles from adjoining municipalities are involved in efforts to battle the fires.
Later in the evening, Karamanlis arrived at the fire brigade's command operations centre for a briefing on the current state of wildfires (at approximately 22:30 local time).
".... The situation continues to be difficult. A major effort is continuing on all the fronts and during the night by land forces. I wish, on this occasion, to express a very big thank you to all those participating in this very difficult struggle," the prime minister stated.
Assistance from abroad
The European Commission also announced the activation of the Union's civil defence mechanism on Saturday evening, with two Italian fire-fighting aircraft already patrolling over southern Greece, while another two French planes were reportedly en route to Greece as well. Cyprus also announced its willingness to dispatch 70 fire-fighters and four aircraft to Greece.
In a later report from Vienna, Austria's defence ministry announced that it will send six firefighting aircraft and helicopters to Greece. Additionally, 30 military officers and a Hercules C-130 transport aircraft will escort the firefighting aircraft.
Problems were expected reported in power lines in affected regions, although the state energy company PPC said its high-voltage lines are unaffected and no problems are foreseen for the greater Athens area. Four medium-voltage lines were down, PPC stated, with 200 repairmen and linesmen sent to affected areas.
On the government side, an emergency meeting was held at the Maximos Mansion government house, chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, with all relevant ministers, civil defence and armed forces personnel to consider all additional measure to combat the wildfires, especially the one in northeast Attica prefecture.
aramanlis later flew over the fire-stricken region in a helicopter, while on Saturday he met with the fire brigade's leadership at the service's command centre in Athens. Additionally, it was announced that President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias was returning from his holidays in northwest Greece.
Finally, in what's expected to be a groundswell of financial support for the fire-stricken areas, the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities (KEDKE) will provide 500,000 euros from its reserves for restoration projects for municipalities and communities in northeastern Attica affected by the latest disastrous wildfires.
Papandreou on wildfire situation
Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou on Sunday afternoon referred to the major wildfire threatening Athens' northern mountainous suburbs after devastating northeast Attica prefecture.
Papandreou, who spoke from the Palea Penteli township, where he arrived for a firsthand briefing on the situation, said the national catastrophe will concern all citizens, "but in the day after". He also stressed that immediate and practical steps to restrict and extinguish the fires are now paramount. He also expressed his solidarity to fire-fighters and the fire-stricken.
KKE: Organised arson plan; opposition reactions
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Secretary General Aleka Papariga, referring to the spate of wildfires surrounding northern Athens on Sunday, referred to a well-organised plan aimed at appropriating choice tracts of land in the wider region of eastern Attica prefecture, where most of the wildfires erupted.
Papariga stressed that, in her opinion, the essence of the problem is that "when there is an organised and well-planned arson plan aimed at the choice tracts of land, and when there is also an enacted framework allowing land speculation, there can be no high-level civil defence plan. I believe that it could exist, one that is better than the one that exists, but we must not ask for an organised plan to be tackled with firefighting means..."
An announcement by the Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) stated that "at this time, the full utilisation of all the means to restrict the conflagration is necessary, before we mourn even worse things."
In televised statements, Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) party leader George Karatzaferis said "all of us must assume our responsibilities and first of all the government," adding that "more action and effectiveness is required. Every summer the same and the same. At last, we must tackle the issue at some moment."
Foreign national charged with attempted homicide; causing roadside fire
A 41-year-old Albanian national was arrested on Sunday evening on attempted homicide charges and of causing a roadside fire, after he allegedly doused his 27-year-old wife with a flammable fluid and set her on fire.
The incident took place in the Ano Liosia district, northwest greater Athens area, adding a particularly macabre note to an already bleak weekend due to raging wildfires north of Athens.
The woman, screaming and in flames, reportedly ran into nearby brush, resulting in a fire breaking out. The ensuing fire destroyed a small expanse of grassland before being fully extinguished.
The victim, also an Albanian national, was taken to a local hospital with extensive burns, while the alleged perpetrator was arrested in his vehicle on the old Athens-Corinth highway.
 Heart patient with H1N1 flu diesA 23-year-old heart patient who had contracted the new flu virus died at dawn on Sunday.
According to an announcement by the health ministry, "the case is not being recorded as a death due to the flu type A (H1N1) virus, according to international scientific standards, since the infection was added over the last two days and is not linked with the cause of death."
The young man was suffering from what the announcement said was a "chronic polysystematic illness" that included serious pneumonic hypertension of a serious level and final stage right cardiac inadequacy.
At the beginning of the month, the man was admitted to the Onassio Hospital.
 Two football games cancelled due to wildfiresGreece's Super League football league on Sunday afternoon officially cancelled two matches scheduled for later in the evening in the greater Athens area due to a raging wildfire northwest of the Greek capital.
Specifically, the AEK-Olympiakos derby and the Panionios-PAOK game for the first division's 2009-2010 season opening weekend were cancelled, with another date to be announced.
 Super League football resultsThe 2009-2010 Super League football championship kicked off over the weekend, although the matches between AEK Athens-Olympiakos Piraeus and Panionios Athens-PAOK Thessaloniki were postponed due to the state of emergency declared in Attica prefecture as a result of raging wildfires north of the Greek capital. In the most important match played, Panathinaikos Athens beat Ergotelis Crete 3-0 away on Saturday.
In other action:
Aris Thessaloniki-Atromitos Athens 1-0
Xanthi-PAS Yiannina 1-1
Asteras Tripolis-Larissa 0-0
Levadiakos Livadia-Kavala 0-1
Panthrakikos Komotini-Iraklis Thessaloniki 1-2
Standings after one week of play:
1. Panathinaikos 3 points
2. Aris 3
3. Kavala 3
4. Iraklis 3
5. Asteras 1
6. Larissa 1
7. Xanthi 1
8. PAS Yiannina 1
9. AEK 0
10. Olympiakos 0
11. Panionios 0
12. PAOK 0
13. Atromitos 0
14. Levadiakos 0
15. Panthrakikos 0
16. Ergotelis 0
Note: AEK, Olympiakos, Panionios and PAOK have not yet played a game.
 Fair on MondayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Monday, with wind velocity reaching 2-7 beaufort. Temperatures will between 17C and 35C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 4-7 beaufort winds and temperatures from 24C to 32C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures from 21C to 31C.
 Athens' Sunday newspapers at a glanceOnly a handful of papers managed to include the raging wildfires in Attica prefecture in their Sunday editions, the others mainly focused on the usual domestic political reports and speculation, along with the state of the economy.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "New pension rates with successive social insurance".
APOGEVMATINI: "Entry scores for 300 universities, college departments".
AVGHI: "Scandals, economy in freezer due to election speculation".
AVRIANI: "Massive operation by intelligence service to catch arsonists".
CHORA (weekly): "Elections due to economic impasse".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "Shhhh, Costas (Karamanlis) is thinking. Hour of decisions by prime minister".
ETHNOS: "The government knew about Turkish provocations on Rho islet".
KATHIMERINI: "Fiery nightmare returns".
LOGOS: "Karamanlis' small basket of promises at upcoming Thessaloniki fair".
NIKI: "Escape via early ballot".
PARON (weekly): "Who is pressuring and why for early elections".
REALNEWS (weekly): "The state burned us! Residents and local officials claim slow response by authorities."
RIZOSPASTIS: "Decisive answer to anti-communist (initiative)", a reference to an event on Sunday that was ultimately cancelled due to the wildfires.
VIMA: "Black September with political uncertainty, economic chaos".
VRADYNI: "Bigger pensions in record time."
 Cypriot help to Greece to fight firesNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cyprus is sending help to Greece to help fight the fires that are raging out of control in eastern Attica.
One helicopter, which belongs to the Fire Services, took off earlier Sunday for Greece, with its four-member crew.
"The helicopter was sent following a request by Athens. We are ready, if asked, to send help, to assist in the way we did in 2007" head of the Fire Services Andreas Nikolaou has said.
Later today, 16 forest fire fighters and two forestry departments vehicles will also be sent to Greece.
The fires in Greece have burned scores of houses and thousands of acres of forest near Athens as flames raged out of control, fanned by strong winds, which make the job of the fire services very difficult.
Greek officials have said the fire had reached the suburbs of Aghios Stefanos, Anthoussa, Pallini, Pikermi and Dionyssos.
The authorities have declared a state of emergency in eastern Attica where the flames seared about 30,000 acres.
 Photo exhibition in Rimini on Cyprus' stolen cultural treasuresNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
The Church of Cyprus continues its efforts to recover stolen religious artifacts and to highlight the continuing looting of the island‘s cultural heritage in the northern Turkish-occupied part of the country.
The 30th World Meeting of Rimini in Italy, which formally opens its gates from 23 to 29 August, entitled "The knowledge is always an event", provides a forum for the Church to bring into focus the need to have stolen cultural treasures - found and confiscated by the German police -- return to their legal owner, the Greek Orthodox
Church of Cyprus.
"We are hostages in Germany. We ask for your help and contribution to return as soon as possible to our homes in Cyprus", is the central motto, which the Church uses to promote its desperate cry for the return of its stolen treasures.
Cypriot treasures, including church icons and frescoes, stolen by the Turkish art dealer Aydin Dikmen, continue to remain trapped in Germany, pending a decision by the authorities in Munich to release the 169 items whose Cypriot ownership has been proven before the court. Many other items are still the object of a lengthy legal battle in Germany.
As part of its efforts to inform international public opinion about the looting of Cyprus' cultural heritage, the Church of Cyprus in cooperation with the Byzantine Museum of the Foundation of Archbishop Makarios will present a photographic exhibition at the meeting in Rimini.
The exhibition includes icons, frescoes, manuscripts and mosaics found when Interpol and the German Police stormed Dikmen's apartment.
These are items from about fifty churches in Turkish occupied Cyprus, and include fragments of 6th century mosaics of Panayia Kanakaria, Panagia Apsinthiotissa in Lapithos, Panagia Pergaminiotissas in Akanthou (12th century), the church of St. Solomoni (9th century) and the Church of Antifonitis (ca. 1200 and late 15th century).
 Congress of Cypriots abroad opens MondayNICOSIA (CNA/ANA-MPA)
Cypriots, living abroad, will gather here this week to discuss the latest developments in the Cyprus problem and be briefed on the issue by the island‘s political and religious leadership.
The 16th Annual Conference of the Central Council of the World
Federation for Overseas Cypriots (POMAK) and the International Coordinating Committee "Justice for Cyprus" (PSEKA), and the Conference of the Executive Council of the World Organisation for Young Overseas Cypriots (NEPOMAK) will be held in Nicosia, from 24-28 August.
President Demetris Christofias will address the opening ceremony on Monday evening.
During the conference, representatives of several Ministries will brief delegates on issues that concern them. President of the Committee of Cyprus Occupied Municipalities, Mayor of the Turkish occupied city of Famagusta Alexis Galanos, President of AHEPA Nicholas Karacostas and the US Senator Robert Menendez will also deliver a speech during the conference.
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