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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-09-07

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From: The Athens News Agency at <>


Athens, Greece, 07/09/1999 (ANA)


  • Athens hit by 5.9 Richter quake
  • Traffic chaos in city centre
  • Experts: too early to draw conclusions
  • New U.S. Cyprus envoy in Athens
  • Inflation drops to 2.0 percent
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange


Athens hit by 5.9 Richter quake

A strong earthquake registering 5.9 on the Richter scale hit Athens shortly after 3 p.m. on Tuesday, shaking office buildings and apartment blocks and sending residents onto the streets. According to initial estimates from seismologists, the quake had an epicentre some 20 kilometres northeast of the Greek capital, in the Mount Parnitha region. Weaker aftershocks from the quake continued to rattle the city centre. Frightened Athenians gathered in the streets and parks following the quake, which was felt throughout central Greece. According to initial reports, a building near the Athens First Cemetery in the suburb of Pangrati collapsed under the force of the quake. No injuries have been reported although police have reports of other minor damage to buildings. There was an unconfirmed report of the death of one person, due to a heart attack.

Traffic chaos in city centre

Thousands of city dwellers trying to return to their homes blocked streets and roads around the city and traffic lights knocked out by the quake led to traffic chaos in the city centre. The mobile phone network also appeared to have been knocked out by the quake or by overloaded lines as people tried to ring home. The lack of contact served to exacerbate people's anxiety. Hospitals in the city area have evacuated their patients; some were still camped out on the streets opposite the hospital as builds continued to be shaken by weak aftershocks.

Experts: too early to draw conclusions

Athens Observatory professor Dimitris Lalas said that the region which had given rise to the quake had in the past produced only low magnitude quakes. He said that it was still too early to draw conclusions but said there appeared to be only minor damage. At approximately 4 p.m., Prime Minister Costas Simitis began chairing a meeting of ministers to coordinate action. Development Minister Evangelos Venizelos was at the Athens Observatory and being constantly updated on developments, as was the environment and public works ministry.

New U.S. Cyprus envoy in Athens

Thomas G. Weston, President Clinton's newly-appointed Special Coordinator for Cyprus today held talks with Alternate Foreign Minister Yiannos Kranidiotis on how to promote a settlement to the thorny Cyprus problem. Weston, a career diplomat, who was named Special Coordinator fror Cyprus last July, will also exchange views with other senior government officials, and will conduct consultations on Cyprus with allies in European capitals, a US embassy announcement said.

Inflation drops to 2.0 percent

Year on year inflation from the month of August dropped to 2.0 percent from 2.1 percent, the National Statistics Service announced on Tuesday. National Economy and Finance Minister Yannos Papandoniou, welcoming the developing, said it had been decades since inflation had been at such a low rate. "This development is fully in linke with the government's goals and prospects of joining economic and monetary union," he said.


Sunny weather is forecast for today, although mainland Greece and the northern Aegean can expect partly cloudy skies. Winds northerly, light to moderate. Mostly sunny in Athens with temperatures ranging from 21-30C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 18-27C.


Monday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar 305.288 Pound sterling 490.167 Japanese yen (100) 278.177 French franc 49.440 German mark 165.815 Italian lira (100) 16.749 Irish Punt 411.782 Belgian franc 8.039 Finnish mark 54.544 Dutch guilder 147.163 Danish kr. 43.598 Austrian sch. 23.568 Spanish peseta 1.949 Swedish kr. 37.541 Norwegian kr. 39.103 Swiss franc 202.839 Port. Escudo 1.618 Can. dollar 204.749 Aus. dollar 197.031 Cyprus pound 560.480 Euro 324.305


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