|Sunday, 25 February 2024
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 99-09-14
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <ert.ntua.gr/>
 RENT AND HOUSING SUPPORT FOR QUAKE-STRICKEN POPULATIONSpeaking after yesterday's meeting of the inter-ministerial committee, the government spokesman, Dimitris Reppas, said that over the next few weeks all those made homeless by last Tuesday's earthquake in Athens would be settled in organised camps of tents and other temporary homes, with the necessary infrastructure. He pointed out that the government was focusing its policy primarily on the provision of rent and housing support and he underlined that it was determined to deal firmly with any attempts at profiteering. The national economy minister, Iannos Papantoniou, has announced a further package of relief measures to help those hit by the earthquake.
These include a grant of two million drachmas for the families of victims and those whose homes were destroyed, rent support of 80,000-120,000 drachmas per month for two years, help for the unemployed and pensioners from 1st October and economic assistance of up to 130,000 drachmas per square metre in the rebuilding of homes that were destroyed or the repair of buildings rendered unsafe. The government has already earmarked the sum of 7.3 billion drachmas for the emergency relief aid of 200,000 drachmas per family, which is now being disbursed.
 SECOND ROUND OF BUILDING INSPECTIONS BEGINS TODAYThe government spokesman also announced yesterday that a preliminary technical survey of damaged buildings would be completed within the next few days and that a second round of inspections would get under way today, culminating in the demolition of buildings deemed unfit for habitation. So far a total of 5,540 damaged buildings have been condemned as unfit, 29,431 are deemed repairable and 29,463 are considered safe.
 PRIME MINISTER MEETS OPPOSITION LEADERThe prime minister, Kostas Simitis, met yesterday with the opposition New Democracy party leader, Kostas Karamanlis, in the framework of his meetings with party leaders to brief them on the problems arising from the recent earthquake. Mr Karamanlis drew the prime minister's attention to the major delays that had been observed in the provision of relief aid to the earthquake victims. In a press conference, leader of the Coalition of the Left Wing and Progress Nikos Konstantopoulos has called for reorganizing seismic research and a strict legal framework for checking building projects.
 FURTHER RELIEF MEASURESThe president of the Greek Banking Union, Theodoros Karatzas, yesterday announced earthquake relief measures which include extension of the period of loan repayments and a 2% reduction until the end of next year of the interest rate on personal and business loans. The government has decided to open a special relief account at the Bank of Greece for members of the public to make contributions to help those hit by last week's earthquake. The number of the account is 234365/5. The parliamentary group of the opposition New Democracy party has decided that deputies and Euro-deputies would offer to the Greek Red Cross the sum of 56 million drachmas for relief work.
 LEGAL ACTION IN CONNECTION WITH COLLAPSED BUILDINGSMeanwhile teams are still working to retrieve the bodies of those crushed under the rubble of the collapsed Ricomex factory. The number of missing is now 16, while the official death toll is currently set at 128. The head of the Athens Appeal Court has submitted a written request for the charges of manslaughter through negligence to be changed to manslaughter with intent and deliberate deceit in respect of defective construction work on buildings that collapsed in the earthquake.
The chairman of the Technical Chamber of Greece, Kostas Liaskas, has said the system for the control of private construction work is in need of radical reorganisation and proposed a package of measures aimed at safeguarding buildings. Athens courts are to remain closed until 26th September to enable repair of earthquake damage to the buildings to be carried out.
 POWERFUL AFTERSHOCK IN TURKEYGreek seismologists have given assurances that yesterday's powerful aftershock in Turkey, with its epicentre again in Izmit, has no connection with the current seismic activity in Greece. So far 7 people are known to have died in yesterday's tremor, with at least 250 others injured. At least 25 buildings damaged in last month's quake have now collapsed and telephone communications in the region have been cut off.
The Turkish prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, has announced that the tremor was an aftershock of the main one which destroyed large areas in the north-west of the country four weeks ago, and he urged people to remain calm. Greek seismologists, however, have disputed the intensity of yesterday's tremor, claiming it registered 6.8 and not 5.8 on the Richter scale as Turkish seismologists reported, while experts in Strasbourg say the quake measured 6.1. The tremor was also felt in Constantinople, causing fear and panic amongst parents and children for whom yesterday was the first day back to school after the summer holidays. Schools are to remain close indefinitely. Another tremor measuring 4 on the Richter scale was recorded in central Albania yesterday, and a weaker shock of 3.9 at Perachora, near Loutraki, an area that was badly hit in the major earthquake of 1981. The epicentre of the quake in Albania was 125 km south of Tirana.
 ATHENS STOCK EXCHANGE OVER 6,000 MARKOn the Athens Stock Exchange the general share price index burst through the 6,000 mark yesterday, to close 5.09% up at 6,032.65 points.
 CYPRIOT PRESIDENT VISITS ATHENSThe Cypriot president, Glafkos Kliridis, has arrived in Athens for talks with the Greek prime minister and the president of the republic, Kostis Stefanopoulos. Mr Simitis and Mr Kliridis will discuss the American proposal for an informal meeting with the Turkish prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, the Turkish-Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, and the American president, Bill Clinton, in Constantinople in November.
President Kliridis will go to the United States for a meeting with the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, to discuss the long-standing Cyprus dispute. Yesterday, Mr Kliridis met Cypriot party leaders whose parties are not represented in the house of representatives and briefed them on the latest Cyprus developments and the issue of their participation in the Cypriot national council.
 TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER ATTENDS EU MINISTERS' COUNCILTurkish foreign minister Ismail Cem has attended the EU foreign ministers' council session in Brussels, although Turkey had cut off dialogue with the EU two years ago. Mr Cem told reporters about the spirit of mutual solidarity which developed between Greece and Turkey in the wake of the recent quakes.
For his part, Greek foreign minister Yorgos Papandreou stressed the importance of the recent improvement in Greek- Turkish relations, saying it was a result of overcoming the myth that Greeks and Turks hated each other. In the US, state department spokesman James Rubin said the US was backing any move aimed at improving Greek-Turkish relations.