|Tuesday, 28 January 2020|
Athens News Agency: Daily News Bulletin in English, 09-08-25
From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>Tuesday, 25 August 2009 Issue No: 3279
 Wildfires mostly under controlGreek fire brigade officials on Monday afternoon appeared confident that efforts to extinguish the last remaining wildfires in Attica prefecture would be successful by nightfall, with the emphasis now shifting to preventing any rekindling of fires.
The most ominous wildfire still not under control was reported near Mt. Kithaironas, where Attica prefecture and Viotia prefecture converge at the Gulf of Corinth. That blaze caused the evacuation of the Porto Germeno resort earlier in the day.
Another wildfire on the island of Hios was under control, while a wildfire burning hilly brushland east of the harbour town of Karystos was still not extinguished.
Earlier, the massive multi-front wildfire that erupted on Saturday in several spots of northeast and east Attica prefecture was reported as partially under control by early Monday afternoon, with concern swifting to the wildfire that broke out Sunday night near Mt. Kitheronas.
On the Ionian island of Zakyntos, a total of four wildfires erupted since Friday, and continued to burn throughout Monday in the areas of Maries and Stroggylo. Finally, smaller wildfires in the northern Peloponnese and on the central Aegean island of Skyros were under control.
Meanwhile, government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, speaking during his afternoon briefing on Monday, said about the wildfire that the picture at the moment is better, but the risk of it rekindling still exists.
The spokesman added that the wildfire on Mt. Kitheronas is in full force, where aircraft cannot fly due to the strong winds, while announcing that the coast guard has provided patrol boats to intervene, if necessary, to evacuate inhabitants from Porto Germeno. Two navy vessels are also ready for the same reason.
Antonaros stressed that damage of various extents that has been caused in 150 homes has already been recorded and on Tuesday mechanics committees from the Public Works ministry will be carrying out systematic recording.
On the question of power supply, he said that the situation has improved on Monday, but problems mainly remain in Karystos. "As the situation is at present, there is no danger of a blackout," he said.
Gov't defends wildfire reaction
The government spokesman on Monday emphasised that the state apparatus and services were fully mobilised over the weekend to deal with the scores of wildfires that erupted in the country, especially against the multi-front and massive blaze that scorched northeastern Attica prefecture throughout Sunday.
Spokesman Evangelos Antonaros, speaking at a regular press briefing, also deflected intense criticism by some quarters of the press over lack of coordination by fire-fighting forces.
"Coordination of the state apparatus was well organised, from the beginning... with the mobilisation of all of our forces, the one was one: to effectively extinguish the wildfires and to limit the damages to our natural environment and properties of our fellow people. The priority was to avoid any loss of life," he stressed.
Moreover, the spokesman said reforestation and anti-flood works will begin immediately.
Asked whether there are indications of an organised plan to set fires intentionally, Antonaros declined to follow up, saying merely that what is now imperative is to put out the fires without any loss of life.
In response to another press question referring to headlines in some Athens dailies bashing the government over an alleged lack of coordination, the spokesman underlined:
"Neither I nor you are experts to cite, analyse and judge operational issues," he said, noting that an immediate fire brigade response came in the wake of the eruption, on Friday evening (20.40 GMT), of the devastating initial wildfire at the Sesi site. Antonaros said 14 fire engines and 42 fire-fighters were initially dispatched to the site, which is near the village of Grammatiko, northeast of Athens in Marathon municipality.
He added that another 35 vehicles and 121 fire-fighters were also dispatched, along with 20 water carriers and 14 aircraft to battle the specific wildfire alone.
In a related development, Environment and Town Planning Minister George Souflias reminded on Monday that legislation passed in November 2007 mandates the immediate demolition of any structure built on wildfire-ravaged land, with the owner disqualified from seeking judicial or administrative relief.
 PM Karamanlis visits firefighting aircraft base at ElefsinaPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis visited the firefighting aircraft base at Elefsina on Monday, accompanied by Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis and Deputy Ministers Costas Tasoulas and Yiannis Plakiotakis.
"I am sure that I am expressing the feelings of all Greek women and all Greek men in extending to you a big thank you for your contribution to the country, to Greek society, for all that you are doing for the protection of our forests, our natural environment, the property of citizens and mainly, of course, human life," the prime minister said.
Karamanlis also thanked the men and women of the fire bridage, the Greek Police, the armed forces, volunteers and local administration who are combatting wildfires.
The prime minister reassured them that the state trusts them and secures for them all that they need to carry out their mission.
"With the self-denial and the heroism that you are displaying in performing your duty you are sending a message of contribution and solidarity to society in its entirety," he said, adding that this is very important in our times because all this, unfortunately, is not self-evident.
"And these days it was necessary for you to go out of your way. Continue, closing your ears to the few who, in a safe position and for their own expediencies, are attempting to level everything. Greek society in its entirety, the overwhelming majority of Greeks are grateful to you and support you," the prime minister further said and praised the contribution of the base's technical staff. He also thanked the foreign pilots who are participating in the firefighting effort.
 PM thanks Cyprus, Turkey for supportPrime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday spoke with Cyprus President Demetris Christofias and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan by phone.
Christofias called Karamanlis to express his support in the face of several wildfires that erupted in Greece, while the Greek PM thanked the Cypriot president for the fire-fighting aid dispatched by the island republic.
The Turkish premier also expressed his solidarity with his Greek counterpart, whereas Karamanlis thanked Erdogan for the dispatch of a Turkish fire-fighting plane to Greece.
 PASOK on wildfire situationMain opposition PASOK party spokesman George Papaconstantinou, referring to the wildfires that devastated north and northeast Athens over the weekend, expressed a hope on Monday that the blazes will be placed under control, while he stressed that it is not the time to seek causes and responsibilities.
"We have exercised criticism in the past ... such as the criticism we have exercised over the mishaps of 2007, ones that have not become lessons, is also known. However, this discussion must not, and cannot, open now," he said.
The spokesman further said that "we are also doing this today. We must stand by all those who are struggling: fire-fighters, security forces, volunteers, local administrations, the residents who are trying to protect the property that they have built..."
Referring to the meeting chaired by PASOK leader George Papandreou earlier on Monday, Papaconstantinou announced that an evaluation of the situation was made, as well as a discussion on "managing the day after."
"When the fires are extinguished we shall not only be able to discuss the responsibilities but what must be done from now on as well," Papaconstantinou added.
Asked whether the causes of the wildfire were discussed during the meeting and whether he shares a view of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) regarding "organised arson", he said the details of the discussion will become known in the days to come and, regarding the second question, said that "I shall not enter talk of the discussion at the moment."
 KKE leader calls for Parliament session on wildfires (adds Syn leader)Communist Party of Greece (KKE) leader Aleka Papariga, in a letter on Monday, called for an urgent Parliament session at the political leaders' level and a briefing by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis regarding the weekend's disastrous wildfires.
Papariga characterised the ongoing period as "crucial and tragic", as a series of wildfires turned northeastern Attica into a "lunar landscape".
Papariga called on the prime minister to brief Parliament on the prevailing situation, the reasons and measures that were implemented and what measures that must be undertaken to repair the massive damages.
In a letter to the president of the republic, Coalition of the Left (Synaspismos) leader Alexis Tsipras called for the convening of the political party leaders' council under the chairmanship of the former to examine the wildfires issue.
Tsipras said measures are needed to bind the current and future governments, while he referred to a series of law legalising the appropriation of forest land in the country as well as to the decades-old problem of illegal building and subsequent and periodic attempts at legalising buildings around the country.
 Ieronymos tours fire-ravaged regionsArchbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos on Monday toured several fire-ravaged sites in eastern and northeast Attica prefecture.
Ieronymos visited the areas of Varnavas, Marathon and Mt. Penteli and met with local officials and the monks of a monastery on Mt. Penteli. Afterwards, he travelled to Nea Makri, Voutzas, Aghios Stefanos, Drossia and Stamata.
The Archbishop expressed his sorrow over the disaster and called for national unity. "We must all act as a family," he said, adding that the Church will offer assistance wherever and whenever needed.
 Evacuation of coastal resort orderedWestern Attica prefecture authorities on Monday ordered the immediate evacuation of the coastal resort of Porto Germeno -- northwest of the greater Athens area -- due to a raging wildfire on nearby Mt. Kitheronas. The blaze mysteriously erupted late Sunday afternoon, following scores of large and small wildfires that were reported over the weekend.
Meanwhile, a fire engire caught fire at the Pikermi site, east of Athens, amid fire-fighting efforts in the township.
 Turkey to send a fire-fighting plane, AnadoluTurkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered the dispatch of a fire-fighting aircraft to Greece to contribute to efforts to contain a series of wildfires in Attica prefecture, according to the Anadolu news agency.
The dispatch of the aircraft comes after Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis spoke late Sunday evening with her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu, with the latter expressing his government's support to the Greek people, the semi-official news agency reported.
 Gov't offers financial support to small enterprisesEconomy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanasiou, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis and Tourism Minister Costas Markopoulos on Monday signed a joint ministerial decision launching an 1.05 billion euros action aimed at offering financial support to small and very small enterprises in the country.
The project covers enterprises in the sectors of manufacturing, tourism, commerce and services, with a minimum annual turnover of 25,000 euros.
 MIG says Olympic Air project progresses satisfactorilyMarfin Investment Group (MIG) on Monday categorically denied as inaquerate and misleading a press report alleging that the group was finding difficulties in hiring the necessary number of pilots needed for the operation of Olympic Air, scheduled for October 1, 2009.
In a statement, MIG said the project to creating a new Olympic was progressing satisfactorily and according to the initial business plan. MIG said it has already successfully activated Olympic Handling, offering ground services, and was intensively preparing the operation of Olympic Engineering, offering aicraft maintenance services.
MIG noted that Olympic Air was satisfactorily progressing in hiring its new flight staff and training in its new Airbus 319/320 and Bombardier DHC8-Q400 and DHC8-100 currently supplied for the company.
 Nine candidates for Larco plant (recasts)A total of nine Greek and foreign investors have expressed an interest in a procedure to privatise Larco, a mining and metals plant in south-central Greece, Economy and Finance Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou announced on Monday.
The minister, in a statement, said the number of investors interested in the privatisation of Larco showed there was strong investment interest for the company.
"This clearly created a positive base for the development of the privatisation procedure to the benefit of the enterprise and the country. Increased interest for Larco was also a clear message of confidence in the prospects of the Greek economy in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis," he stated.
The nine bids are currently being evaluated by the state's financial and legal consultant.
 Electric power supply system considerably improved, PPC saysThe Public Power Corporation (DEH) announced on Monday evening that the state of the electric power supply system has improved considerably compared to Sunday and assessed that power stations that are out of order will be reduced to 20 by night time from 167 on Sunday morning and 112 on Sunday night.
The Corporation underlined that the picture would have been better if wildfires had not rekindled in the regions of Voutza and Kallitechnoupoli, that resulted in 24 power stations coming to a halt.
It further revealed that more than 80 work crews are involved in carrying out repairs, while the figure is increasing with the transfer of technicians from other parts of Attica and other prefectures.
 ATE Insurance reports improved H1 resultsATE Insurance on Monday reported a significant increase in its consolidated results in the first half of 2009, compared with the corresponding period last year, despite a continuing crisis in the insurance market.
Consolidated pre-tax profits totaled 8.8 million euros in the January-June period, from 1.8 million euros last year, while net after-tax profits jumped to 6.3 million euros, from 800,000 euros in 2008, and net pre-tax profits soared to 8.2 million euros from 1.3 million euros over the same period. Net after-tax profits jumped to 5.7 million euros from 300,000 euros in 2008.
Premium production rose 11.6 pct to 111.3 million euros, from 99.8 million euros in the first half last year, while compensation paid to customers totaled 62 million euros, up 10.6 pct. Operating spending fell 23.9 pct to 19.3 million euros, while the company's investment portfolio's net position was 44.5 million euros in June 30 from 23.1 million euros in Dec. 31, 2008.
 Stocks end mixed on Mon.Greek stocks ended mixed in the Athens Stock Exchange on Monday, with the composite index of the market rising 0.14 pct to end at 2,483.26 points. Turnover was an improved 225.1 million euros, of which 10.2 million euros were block trades.
Most sectors moved lower, with the Insurance (3.77 pct), Media (3.05 pct), Chemicals (2.16 pct) and Food/Beverage (2.04 pct) suffering the heaviest percentage losses of the day, while Banks (1.04 pct), Oil (0.80 pct) and Utilities (0.48 pct) scored gains.
The FTSE 20 index rose 0.40 pct, the FTSE 40 index ended 0.46 pct lower and the FTSE 80 index ended 0.50 pct down. Broadly, decliners led advancers by 133 to 82 with another 52 issues unchanged.
Sector indices ended as follows:
Oil & Gas: +0.80%
Personal & Household: -1.19%
Raw Materials: -1.44%
Travel & Leisure: -1.00%
Food & Beverages: -2.04%
Financial Services: -0.66%
The stocks with the highest turnover were National Bank, Alpha Bank, Piraeus Bank and Marfin Popular Bank.
Selected shares from the FTSE/ASE-20 index closed in euros as follows:
Alpha Bank: 10.96
Public Power Corp (PPC): 16.00
HBC Coca Cola: 15.48
Hellenic Petroleum: 7.22
National Bank of Greece: 23.03
EFG Eurobank Ergasias: 10.57
Bank of Piraeus: 10.75
 Greek bond market closing reportTurnover in the Greek electronic secondary bond market jumped to 2.243 billion euros on Monday, of which 1.2 billion euros were buy orders and the remaining 1.043 billion euros were sell orders. The 10-year benchmark bond (July 19, 2019) was the most heavily traded security with a turnover of 1.658 billion euros. The yield spread between the 10-year Greek and German benchmark bonds shrank to 121 basis points, with the Greek bond yielding 4.52 pct and the German Bund 3.31 pct.
In interbank markets, interest rates were largely unchanged. The 12-month Euribor rate was 1.32 pct, the six-month rate 1.10 pct, the three-month rate 0.84 pct and the one-month rate 0.49 pct.
 Foreign Exchange rates - TuesdayReference buying rates per euro released by the European Central Bank:
U.S. dollar 1.443
Pound sterling 0.875
Danish kroner 7.502
Swedish kroner 10.185
Japanese yen 136.65
Swiss franc 1.530
Norwegian kroner 8.653
Canadian dollar 1.556
Australian dollar 1.716
 Armed robbery in Thessaloniki; injuries reportedAn armed robbery, replete with two gunshot victims, was reported on Monday at a bank in Thessaloniki. According to reports, a gun-totting suspect held up an Emporiki Bank and fled afterwards aboard a motorcycle. While fleeing the suspect shot at two passersby under as yet undetermined circumstances.
The two victims were injured in the legs and hospitalised.
 Ferry towed back to port after engine problemA catamaran-type ferryboat reported engine problems on Monday morning after departing the Saronic isle of Poros island en route for the port of Piraeus. The vessel, identified as the "Flying Cat 1", was initially adrift with 195 passenger on board before being towed safely back to Poros. Passengers disembarked and were transported to Piraeus by bus.
 Fire on HiosA wildfire that erupted at the Kamaroti site on the eastern Aegean island of Hios was in progress on Monday afternoon, reports state. A large detail of fire-fighters and a water-dropping helicopter are battling the blaze, which is burning brushland. Residential areas are not threatened.
 Major heroin arrest on RhodesA 39-year-old Bulgarian woman arriving from the resort of Marmaris, in Turkey, was arrested at the port of Rhodes on Sunday evening after a search of her luggage revealed 2.1 kilos of heroin.
The quantity of heroin was found in a plastic container carried in a bag with a double cover.
The woman claimed that her boyfriend, with whom she has been living in Nicosia, Cyprus, over the last two years blackmailed her and forced her to travel to Istanbul to collect the narcotics before smuggling the heroin in Spain via through Rhodes.
 Two abduction cases involving foreign nationals reportedFive Pakistani nationals, aged 44, 33, 24, 35 and 24 years old, were arrested on Friday in the southern Athens suburb of Glyfada abduction and false imprisonment charges. According to police, the five foreigners held a 29-year-old compatriot hostage in demand for 14,000 years euros from the latter's family.
In a separate incident, a 31-year-old Iraqi was arrested on Friday in Peristeri, western Athens, charged for holding a woman hostage in demand of a 5,000-euro ransom from her family.
 Space technology congress in ThessalonikiAn international congress of space technology is being held in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, on the subject of "Micro-satellites and Íew Space Technologies".
The event is organised by the Greek space service. Minister of Macedonia-Thrace Stavros Kalafatis inaugurated the congress.
 Fair on TuesdayFair weather and northerly winds are forecast in most parts of the country on Tuesday, with wind velocity reaching 2-7 beaufort. Temperatures will range between 17C and 34C. Slightly cloudy in Athens, with northerly 3-6 beaufort winds and temperatures ranging from 24C to 32C. Cloudy with local showers in Thessaloniki, with temperatures ranging from 22C to 30C.
 The Monday edition of Athens' newspapers at a glanceA disastrous spate of wildfires in northeast Attica prefecture, north of greater Athens, dominated the headlines on Monday in Athens' newspapers.
ADESMEFTOS TYPOS: "Hell! Arsonists and strong winds burn half of Attica".
APOGEVMATINI: "Biblical disaster - Hundred of houses, cars, forests, fields and grassland turned into ashes".
AVRIANI: "Cut the crap on ecology"
ELEFTHEROS: "The state parody burned Attica - Cries against government and Prime Minister".
ELEFTHEROTYPIA: "The end - Delay, indifference and criminal neglect provide coup d'grace to Attica".
ESTIA: "Nightmare in Attica - Extent of damage unbelievable".
ETHNOS: "Crime without excuses - Government and state mechanism incompetent before wildfire in Attica".
RIZOSPASTIS: "Organised plan targetting the best pieces of Attica land".
TA NEA: "Hell again with major responsibilities - They underestimated the fire from the beginning".
VRADYNI: "Shame on you".
36, TSOCHA ST. ATHENS 115 21 GREECE * TEL: 64.00.560-63 * FAX: 64.00.581-2 INTERNET ADDRESS: http://www.ana.gr * e-mail: anabul@ana gr * GENERAL DIRECTOR: GEORGE TAMBAKOPOULOS