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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 97-08-20

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 20/08/1997 (ANA)


  • Missing US airman located
  • Seismic fault discovered off Pilion
  • VAN earthquake warning system used in Japan
  • Samos coast guard arrests illegal immigrants
  • Culture Minister to visit Japan
  • Greek stocks slip in lacklustre trade
  • Greece to privatise key paper manufacturer
  • New Democracy criticises government over state of economy
  • Bomb explodes outside Papathemelis' office in Athens
  • Tickets on sale for Thessaloniki U2 super-concert
  • National Bank capital increase
  • Greek products to travel to Skopje
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange


Missing US airman located

Larry Ernest Gonzales, a 30-year-old U.S. airman stationed at the US airbase in Souda on the island of Crete who had been missing since August 12 and declared AWOL, has been found by police at Gytheio, a seaside town in the Pelonnese peninsula, the police director at Hania, Crete announced today.

Gonzales had mysteriously disappeared last week after returning from work at the Souda base to his hotel at Kallathas in the Akrotiri area of Hania.

Greek police and U.S. secret services launched a search for Gonzales, who was declared AWOL on August 14.

Airman Gonzales, along with two others, are reportedly responsible for analysing satellite messages.

Hania police director Ioannis Panigyrakis said in a press statement that Gonzales was "found today by Gytheio police, at Gytheio, staying in a rented room with a British woman".

"Gonzales was taken to the Gytheio police station and will be turned over to officers of his unit," the statement said.

Press sources said Gonzales had gone missing once again in the past for 48 hours. The sources said his personal life had obliged his superiors to demote in fear of a new disappearance.

Seismic fault discovered off Pilion

A team of seismologists from the Geophysics Laboratory of Athens Observatory have discovered an active seismic fault along the sea bed off Pilion on the east coast of mainland Greece which, they believe, could generate powerful, destructive earthquakes in the future.

The same team, which is using new investigative methods, also also located the Amorgos fault which produced the powerful 1956 quake. According to the seismologists, the fault remains active and it too was capable of generating strong tremors.

The team's findings were announced today by Athens Observatory seismologist Maria Sachpatzi, who is heading the research programme.

She was speaking at the 29th World Seismology Conference which opened in Thessaloniki yesterday. The conference, which is being attended by 1,000 eminent scientists from all over the world, will run for ten days.

Speaking later to reporters on the sidelines of the conference, Sachpatzi said that the Pilion fault ran in a west-northwesterly direction. The section located by her team stretches for 50 kilometres at depths of between eight and twelve kilometres.

According to Sachpatzi, the fault was responsible for a major earthquake in 1930.

The great depth of the fault, combined with the fact that it reaches the earth's surface has led the research team to believe that it could generate destructive earthquakes in the future, stonger than six on the Richter scale.

The existence of the Amorgos fault, Sachpatzi said, had been assumed by seismologists because of seismic activity in the past, adding that her team had now located it between the Aegean islands of Amorgos and Santorini.

It was a surface fault, she said, with a great depth and was also capable of generating strong quakes.

Sachpatzi expressed the view that a strong earthquake in the region could trigger volcanic eruptions on Santorini.

Asked by reporters whether quakes were expected in the region in the next few months, Sachpatzi said she was unable to answer but underlined that the announcements made at the ongoing conference should be taken into consideration with respect to the construction of new buildings.

New constructions should be quake-resistant, she said, indicating also that old buildings should perhaps be reinforced structurally.

The Athens Observatory's research programme is being conducted in cooperation with the University of Paris, employing a new method which is used for locating oil deposits under the sea.

The research team headed by Sachpatzi, which will continue its programme in other parts of Greece, was made up of seismologists Gerasimos Houliaras, George Drakatos and Gerasimos Papadopoulos.

VAN earthquake warning system used in Japan

The VAN earthquake early warning system developed by Greek seismologists is being used in a Japanese government research programme aimed at elaborating methods for predicting earth tremors.

The announcement was made by Japanese scientists today at the 29th World Seismology Conference being attended by 1,000 seismology experts from around the world.

The ten-day conference opened in Thessaloniki yesterday.

Other quake-prediction systems, all of which are based on electromagnetism, are being tested in the four-year programme. Whichever is found by the Japanese government to be the most reliable will be used in a subsequent applied stage, which will also be of four years' duration.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the conference, Japanese academic Seiya Uyeda, who is in charge of monitoring the VAN system in the programme, said the method was "very useful" for predicting quakes.

He added that the VAN system had been chosen for the programme on the basis of measurements in Greece over the past decade.

Uyeda said the programme began in Japan last October but so far had not provided any "positive data" with respect to quake prediction.

Asked by reporters whether quake predictions should be made public, Uyeda replied "only if the system producing the predictions has proven to be reliable", noting that this was indeed the case regarding the data given by the VAN method in Greece.

Samos coast guard arrests illegal immigrants

The coast guard today arrested 19 Iraqi illegal immigrants of Kurdish origin and the Turk who ferried them to the Aegean island of Ro.

The Iraqis and the Turk, Soner Ergan, 31, were arrested when the boat in which they were travelling suffered serious damage after hitting rocks.

The illegal immigrants told the coast guard that they had each paid Ergan 1, 000 dollars to ferry them from the Turkish coast to nearby Ro.

All the arrested are being held at the coast guard station at Melisti.

Culture Minister to visit Japan

Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos will visit Tokyo from August 28 to September 1 for talks with the Greek-Japanese parliamentary friendship committee.

During his stay, Venizelos will also meet with the organisers of the Cultural Olympiad to be held in Japan in 1998.

Venizelos said the artistic director for the event would be appointed on September 2 from among the candidates who have expressed their interest.

Greek stocks slip in lacklustre trade

Greek equities remained yesterday under pressure for the second consecutive session on the Athens Stock Exchange Tuesday to lose further ground despite an improvement in trading conditions.

The general index closed 0.61 percent lower at 1,613.02 points with most sector indices losing ground. Banks fell 0.73 percent, Leasing fell 1.18 percent, Insurance eased 0.32 percent, Investment dropped 1.03 percent, Industrials fell 0.70 percent, Cons truction was 0.25 percent off and Holding eased 0.19 percent.Miscellaneous bucked the trend to end 0.16 percent higher.

The parallel market for small cap firms rose 0.02 percent.

Trading was moderate and turnover was 11.9 billion drachmas.

Broadly, declining issues led advancing ones by 108 to 86 with another 18 issues unchanged.

Epiphania, Heliofin, Ideal and Kekrops scored the biggest percentage gains, while Balkan Export, Naousa Mills, Sato and Vis suffered the heaviest losses of the day.

National Bank of Greece ended at 36,980 drachmas, Ergobank at 17,835, Alpha Credit Bank at 19,600, Delta Dairy at 4,220, Titan Cement at 14,755, Intracom at 12,900 and Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation at 6, 595.

In the domestic foreign exchange market, the US dollar rose spectacularly, reversing a two-day sharp fall to end 2.19 percent higher against the drachma.

Greece to privatise key paper manufacturer

The Industrial Reconstruction Organisation (OAE), a Greek state body in charge of restructuring and privatising nationalised enterprises, yesterday called an international tender for the sale of Athinaiki Paper Mills. The deadline for expressions of interest is September 24.

New Democracy criticises government over state of economy

Main opposition New Democracy (ND) party criticised the government yesterday for what it called the "dismal reality of a black hole" in the budget attributed to divergences in revenues and state expenditures.

In an announcement, ND said the assessed taxes and uncollected debts totalled 1.6 billion drachmas, while the government was preparing new tax amendments to change recent regulations that were judged to be ineffective.

The party said the only way to cover "government inability, lack of specific development policy and the absence of coordination" would be to have "immediate infrastructure changes, which the government is daily proven too weak to carry out".

Bomb explodes outside Papathemelis' office in Athens

A bomb exploded yesterday in a building near Syntagma Square in downtown Athens, outside the entrance of the fifth-floor office of PASOK deputy and former public order minister Stelios Papathemelis.

No one was injured in the blast, since an anonymous caller had previously telephoned police to warn of the bomb, which led to the building being evacuated, police said.

Later in the day, two Athens newspapers said they had received phone calls from unknown callers saying they represetned the "Revolutionary Nuclei" urban guerrilla group and warning that the bomb would explode in minutes.

The bomb was left in a plastic bag outside the office.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas condemned the explosion describing it as "the act of bullying cowards trying to undermine democracy."

Mr. Papathemelis himself said that the organisation also made an advance warning call to his office a few minutes before the explosion. "Revolutionay Nuclei" had also claimed responsibility for an explosion at a port terminal in Piraeus a few months ago.

The act was also condemned by the public order ministry, the main opposition New Democracy party, the Coalition of the Left, and the Democratic Social Movement (DHKKI).

Tickets on sale for Thessaloniki U2 super-concert

Tickets for a Sept. 26 concert in Thessaloniki by the popular Irish rock group U2 go on sale in the northern Greece city and in Athens today, but only to people who have pre-registered, the Cultural Capital Organisation said yesterday.

Of a total of 50,000 tickets expected to be issued for the concert, 25,887 have been claimed by registration, and 1,400 through the Internet.

Those who have registered for the concert may pick up their tickets at stands in the XANTH square (Thessaloniki), or 9, Panepistimiou St. in Athens beginning today until August 31.

Remaining tickets available after the sale by registration and distribution to officials will be sold to the public from stands in Thessaloniki at Aristotelous Square between Sept. 1 and 10.

The group and concert crews are expected to arrive in Thessaloniki a day before the concert. Their equipment, transported in 72 trucks, will be set up by 450 technicians at pier 2 on Thessaloniki's port.

Four large screens will be set up at Kalamaria, Stavroupoli, the White Tower (Lefkos Pyrgos) and Aristotelous Square to project the concert.

Adding to the unusual size of the concert is a yet more uncommon clause that provides for insuring the life of each concert-goer for US10 million dollars in the event of an accidental death during the show.

National Bank capital increase

The National Bank of Greece is set to raise about 90 billion drachmas from the Greek and international money markets in a two-phased move over the next two months.

The first phase will involve the offer of bank shares held by the state to foreign institutional investors. These shares will be offered without rights in the equity capital increase which will follow, and will be approximately as many as those which wi ll result from the conversion of the old bond loan. Main lead managers will be Merrill Lynch and SBC Warburg.

The equity capital increase will involve the offer of new for old shares at a rough 1:4 ratio. The increase will be put to a special general shareholders' meeting at the end of September.

The funds drawn will be used for the bank's strategic expansion in the broader Balkan region, and to finance the modernisation of the bank's electronic systems.

Greek products to travel to Skopje fair

The HELEXPO-International Fair of Thessaloniki will organise an exhibition of Greek products in Skopje at the end of November or early December.

In an announcement, HELEXPO said that it had been holding talks with officials in Skopje and expected to reach an agreement soon.


Mostly fine weather is forecast for most of the country today except for mainland Greece and the Ionian Sea where cloudiness, scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected. Light to strong northerly winds turning into gale force in the southeastern Aegean. Partly cloudy in Athens where temperatures will range between 20-31C. Possibility of rain in Thessaloniki where temperatures will be from 17-27C.


Tuesday's closing rates - buying US dlr. 285.359 Pound sterling 458.602 Cyprus pd 526.752 French franc 46.122 Swiss franc 188.569 German mark 155.382 Italian lira (100) 15.931 Yen (100) 241.264 Canadian dlr. 205.642 Australian dlr. 210.800 Irish Punt 416.838 Belgian franc 7.526 Finnish mark 51.949 Dutch guilder 138.002 Danish kr. 40.807 Swedish kr. 35.468 Norwegian kr. 37.319 Austrian sch. 22.074 Spanish peseta 1.840 Port. Escudo 1.532


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