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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-06-08

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] Strong quake rocks SW Greece, one fatality
  • [02] PM briefed on pension reform
  • [03] Papandreou on higher education

  • [01] Strong quake rocks SW Greece, one fatality

    An uncharacteristically strong earthquake rocked much of southwest Greece on Sunday afternoon, with local seismologists pinpointing an intensity of 6.5 on the Richter scale, which would possibly make it the strongest quake recorded in modern Greece's history. The earthquake was recorded at 3:25 p.m. (13.25 GMT) local time. The tremor was felt as far away as Athens, some 230 kilometers to the east of the reported epicentre.

    One fatality was reported in the village of Kato Achayia, Achaia prefecture, after a roof collapsed, along with nearly a dozen injuries in the same community. Several provincial roadways were also blocked off in the region from cracks in the pavement and falling rocks.

    The head of Greece's Earthquake Risk Assessment Committee, Prof. Gerasimos Papadopoulos, speaking outside the Athens Observatory to several dozen reporters and television crews, said the earthquake was shallow, roughly 10 kilometres in depth and with an epicentre near the town of Andravida -- 30 kilometres southwest of the western port city of Patras in southwest Greece. The earthquake was the strongest to hit the area since 1802, according to reports.

    The quake also lasted between 20 to 25 seconds, according to the first eyewitness accounts. A strong aftershock of 4.7 on the Richter scale was felt at 3:55 p.m. (local time).

    Press reports from the Ionian isles and Ileia prefecture on the mainland of western Peloponnese noted that local residents have exited their homes.

    At least one decades-old building was reported to have collapsed in Patras, with the majority of calls for assistance from the fire brigade coming from Ileia and Achaia (Patras) prefectures. One family was reported as trapped under the rubble of an older one-storey residence in the Ileia prefecture of Vartholomio.

    A nationwide mobilisation of civil defence and fire brigade units has commenced.

    [02] PM briefed on pension reform

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was briefed on Saturday by Employment and Social Insurances Minister Fani Palli-Petralia regarding the all-important course of pension reform for the country's creaky social security sector.

    Afterwards, Petralia said three pension funds have merged by June 1, with another 28 funds merged by Aug. 1. She pointed to Oct. 1 as the date for completely various mergers of Greece's numerous state-run pension funds. Moreover, she flatly dismissed opposition criticism that funds' reserves have decreased, saying the planned mergers do not affect funds' guaranteed reserves.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Greek PM Costas Karamanlis.

    [03] Papandreou on higher education

    Main opposition PASOK leader George Papandreou spoke on Saturday to a national conference of his party's affiliated students' group, PASP, equally criticising the government's "conservative" stance vis-à-vis tertiary education and leftist positions, which he said were reactionary and unbending.

    Papandreou said the current model of higher education in the country "has concluded its cycle", although the "shock" of private universities is not an answer, he added.

    The PASOK leader called for "full autonomy" of universities that answer to society and with evaluation.

    He also expressed his support for public monitoring of universities' finances and a link with the job market, while again calling for a minimum 5 percent of GDP to be spent on education.


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