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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 00-09-28
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
NEWS IN ENGLISH ERA 5. THE VOICE OF GREECE
28/9/2000 11:51:10 рм
 Ferry disasterThe worst maritime disaster in 25 years with the shipwreck of the ferry ''Express Samina'' is according to all the indications due to human error.
The ferry ran into a rocky islet 2 miles off the port of Paros and sank in gale-force conditions late Tuesday night. The death doll so far is 64 and rising, while the search for survivors continued all night long by ships of the Greek navy. The efforts of frogmen of the Port Police Corps to dive and verify if people were trapped in the shipwreck failed due to the bad weather conditions.
448 passengers were rescued, while the number of missing persons is unknown. The search for survivors continues.
Sinouk helicopters carried the bodies to the morgue in Goudi, while Olympic Airways scheduled three extra flights to carry relatives of the passengers of Samina to Paros.
Prime minister Kostas Simitis asked that responsibilities should be attributed for the sea tragedy, while merchant marine minister Christos Papoutsis gave assurances that the ones responsible for the tragedy would be brought to justice.
The General prosecutor's office has ordered a criminal investigation into the disaster, while the captain, the second mate and three members of the crew of Samina are detained.
Meanwhile, the president of Minoan Lines Kostas Klironomos attributed the causes of the shipwreck to a serious problem with the sight of an officer on the bridge who did not see a lighted rock, while the vice-president of Minoan Flying Dolphins Pantelis Sfinias ruled out the possibility of an engine failure and claimed that the age of the ferry did not prove it was seaworthy or not.
Samina Express was 34 years old and was going to be laid up in three months.
The inner cabinet will hold a session today to discuss the maritime disaster.
Ecumenical patriarch Vartholomeos of Constantinople was informed about the disaster during his visit to Bahrein.
The president of the republic Konstantinos Stefanopoulos, prime minister Kostas Simitis and the entire state and political leadership of the country and the Pan-Hellenic Maritime Federation expressed their sorrow for the shipwreck, while the Greek parliament kept a minute's silence and adjourned its sessions yesterday.
The president of the European Commission Romano Prodi, the British prime minister Tony Blair, the Turkish foreign minister Ismail Cem, archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus, Pope John Paul the second, the party of Democratic Alarm in Cyprus and the Canadian culture minister - on behalf of her counterparts taking part in the sessions of the International Cultural Policy Network on the island of Sandorini - also expressed their condolences.
The Athens Daily Newspapers Editors Union, expressed its sincere condolences to the relatives of the people who died and awaits that the investigation on the causes of the disaster will locate the ones responsible.
 Proximity talks on CyprusAccording to an article of Barbara Crochet in today's issue of New York Times, the UN secretary general's special adviser for Cyprus Alvaro de Soto has estimated that the Cyprus issue is about to be settled.
It is pointed out in the article that according to Mr de Soto the talks on the future of Cyprus have started opening up new prospects after two weeks of separate talks with his Turkish- Cypriot ''counterpart'' - as he called him - Rauf Denktash.
The 4th round of proximity talks on Cyprus wound up in New York yesterday and it was announced that the 5th round will begin in Geneva on November 1st.
Earlier, the UN secretary general Kofi Annan had successive meetings with the Cypriot president Glafkos Kliridis and the Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash.
In statements after his meeting with Mr Annan, president Kliridis said the talks were useful, while Mr Denktash said his stands were better understood.
In Athens, government spokesman Dimitris Reppas referred to the 4th round of proximity talks and said that Greece regretted that there were no results and developments on the Cyprus issue, and also, because the occupation regime in northern Cyprus and Turkey did not contribute to the least to this end.
 Fuel crisisThe situation is out of hand in the fuel market, as it appears that the strike of petrol tank-truckers will not end soon.
Fuel prices will freeze for another week, following the agreement between the development ministry and representatives of the fuel market. Yesterday, it was decided that the price of fuel will remain stable till next Wednesday, while the price of diesel is reduced by 1.5 drachmas per litre.
Meanwhile, there's significant fuel shortage in petrol stations and already there is lack of fresh vegetables in the country's central markets. Transport minister Christos Verelis will meet today with the strikers in an effort to deal with the deadlock.
 Dialogue on labour relationsLabour minister Tasos Yannitsis met with the board of industrialists and discussed labour relations and ways to deal with unemployment.
After the meeting, Mr Yannitsis stated that the dialogue will end by October 30th, while the Federation of Greek Industries urged that the reduced working hours not be applied.
 Sydney OlympicsTwo more medals, one gold and one silver, were added to the collection of Greece yesterday in the Olympic Games in Sydney.
Michalis Mouroutsos won a gold medal in the 78 kilo category in Tae Kwo Do which was for the first time included in the Olympic Games.
Anastasia Kelesidou won the silver medal in discus throwing, with a throw of 65.71 meters.
So far, Greece has won 9 medals - three gold , five silver and one bronze.
Yet the success of the Greek athletes was marred by the news of the maritime disaster and it was decided that all festive events in Sydney be cancelled, while the possibility of cancelling the welcoming ceremony for the Olympic winners in Athens is also being examined.
 Athens bourseOn the Athens, stock exchange the general share price index remained unchanged, closing on Wednesday at 4,153.14 points - the same points as Tuesday.