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Athens News Agency: News in English, 09-12-29

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Dragon's Cave in Kastoria opens to visitors
  • [02] 2 groups jointly claim bomb blast
  • [03] Pirates seize Greek ship
  • [04] Road toll fee increase
  • [05] Circulation fee deadline extended

  • [01] Dragon's Cave in Kastoria opens to visitors

    The Dragonās Cave in Kastoria, northwestern Greece, a site of exceptional natural beauty and boasting one of the most sophisticated air recycling and climate maintenace systems, is open to the public after a two-year project to make the site accessible to visitors, with the formal inauguration taking place on Tuesday.

    The opening to the cave, which is situated close to Lake Kastoria and was discovered in 1940 by three local residents, has the shape of a dragon's mouth, thus the name.

    According to local legends, a dragon guarded the cave and spurted flams from its mouth when anyone dared to approach it.

    Tourist corridors have been constructed, while stalactite- and stalagmite-friendly lighting has been installed, and measures have also been taken to protect the caveās rare flora.

    It is the only Cave in Greece with fresh-water lakes, given the proximity of Lake Kastoria.

    Bones of cave bears have been discovered in the cave, dating back 10,000 years.

    There are an estimated 10,000 recorded caves throughout Greece, and the Dragonās Cave is now among the countryās 12 caves open to visitors. The Greek caves that are currently open to visitors are Petralona Cave in Halkidiki, Perama Cave in Ioannina, Alistrati Cave in Serres, Dyros Cave, Mara Cave in Drama, Dikteou Androu Cave in Crete, Mellisanthi Cave in Cephalonia, Pramaton Cave in Ioannina, Aghios Georgios Cave in Kilkis, Sykia Cave in Chios, Katsias Cave in Tripolis, and Vathi Cave.

    [02] 2 groups jointly claim bomb blast

    The "Conspiracy of Fire Cells" group has claimed the late-night home-made bomb attack targeting the Ethniki Asfalistiki insurance company building off Syngrou avenue, in a proclamation published on the internet late Monday night that is co-signed by a previously unknown group calling itself the "Renegade Terrorists' Group" (Andartiki Omada Terroriston).

    The makeshift bomb went off at 23:01 on Sunday night in the Athens district of Neos Kosmos. The explosion targeted the Ethniki Asfalistiki building on Galaxias Street off Syngrou Avenue, which houses a branch of National Bank of Greece on the ground floor. An unidentified caller telephoned the newspaper "Eleftherotypia" at 22:46 on Sunday and warned that the bomb would go off in the building within 15 minutes. There were no injuries as a result of the blast because the police managed to cordon off the area but there was extensive damage.

    A senior police official said in Tuesday that the proclamation is being scrutinized by the counter-terrorism squad, given that this was the first time that the Conspiracy of Fire Cells has claimed an attack with such a sophisticated explosive mechanism, although it was not disputed that the group was behind the attack.

    This, he added, coupled by the group's collaboration with the Renegade Terrorists' Group, launched a new era in terrorist activity.

    [03] Pirates seize Greek ship

    Somali pirates seized the Greek-owned bulk carrier "Navios Apollon" late Monday night as it was sailing 240 nautical miles east-northeast of Seychelles, en route to India with a 19-member crew, the Greek Coast Guard said on Tuesday.

    The Panama-flag ultra-handymax vessel, owned by Angeliki Frangou's "Navios Maritime Partners", was seized by a group of approximately 10 armed pirates who approached the ship on at least two speedboats. The pirates boarded the vessel and immobilized the 18-member foreign crew and its Greek captain, at gunpoint.

    The Navios Apollon was heading from Florida, in the US, to a port in India loaded with fertilizer.

    In 2008, piracy attacks on ships worldwide numbered 293, while in the first nine months of 2009 alone the number was greatly increased.

    The London-based Greek Shipping Cooperation Committee (the 'Committee', as it is known) and other international shipowners' associations have called for an increase in the number of warships and patrols along the coasts of Africa, while the US recently submitted a proposal that shipowners cease all negotiations with pirates seeking ransoms for the pirated ships.

    [04] Road toll fee increase

    A ten-cent increase on road tolls will be in effect for all vehicle categories at the Rion-Antirion Bridge and the Elefsina-Corinth-Patras turnpike in southern Greece.

    The increase will be effective as of January 11, 2010.

    [05] Circulation fee deadline extended

    The deadline for payment of car circulation fees for the year 2010, which originally expires on Dec. 31, 2009, has been extended until Jan. 15, 2010, the finance ministry announced on Tuesday. Fees for the 2010 circulation stickers can be paid in banks or Hellenic Post (ELTA) offices.

    During the extension period the car owners wishing to hand over their carsā license plates and car circulation permits can do so at their local Tax Bureau offices.

    A significant effort has been made by the ministry of finance and the ministry of environment, energy and climate change to reduce the fees paid by the owners of small and medium size cars. However, considerable fees are still being paid by certain vehicle categories like large, old technology cars despite the improvements made.

    The ministry of finance intends to reconsider the issue within the framework of the consultations for the tax system reform and proceed with corrective moves to be in effect for the 2011 circulation fees.

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