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Cyprus Mail: News Articles in English, 02-08-06
From: The Cyprus Mail at <http://www.cyprus-mail.com/>
Tuesday, August 6, 2002
 Blackouts could have been avoided had pylons be approvedBy Alex Mita
EAC Acting Director Tassos Roussos yesterday blamed red tape for the blackout that plunged the Troodos range into darkness during last week's devastating fires.
The entire Troodos range is supplied by a network of wooden pylons long overdue for replacement. The pylons burned when the blaze hit the areas of Silikos and Alassa last week, leaving villages in Troodos without power for two days.
Roussos said that the EAC had been struggling for 11 years to get planning permission from the Town Planning Authority (TPA) to replace the wooden poles, but had been blocked by residents' protests and red tape.
"We have been fighting to replace those systems, which are obsolete and struggle to supply the entire Troodos range, for 11 years now. And for 11 years we have not been able to get a planning permit," he said.
Roussos said that to install or replace something, the EAC has to apply for planning permission, just like every other citizen.
"Getting planning permit usually takes a long time, due to constant alterations that are usually sparked off by locals who have health fears," Roussos said.
"But before we start a project, we always discuss the site best suited for the job with town planning, in order to avoid problems with locals."
But Roussos says the pylons were not the only ones delayed.
"There are seven projects that are being delayed because of red tape," he said.
"These projects are of utmost importance, because the demand for electricity is rising, and the system can no longer cope with it.
"What people don't understand is that the network, like all other things, sooner or later becomes obsolete. And it is very possible that due to the high demand this month, we will have overloading and further blackouts."
Roussos said there had been many occasions when the EAC had had to move substations and pylons due to fears from locals that the electromagnetic field produced by them is lethal. But each time they have to move something they have to get a planning permit, which leaves the process delayed for years.
But town planning director Christos Ktorides told the Cyprus Mail yesterday the EAC applications to replace the pylons had been sent through, and that he was expecting them to be approved in a month's time.
"It has not been 11 years since they have applied, it's been around five," he said.
"But you have to understand that these things take time, and because the residents' demands have to be taken into consideration. However, the applications are through to the board and they should be approved within a month," Ktorides said.
Roussos admitted, "It is difficult to try and convince people that there is no health hazard with having high tension pylons close to their houses," Roussos said.
"I can assure you there are no health hazards with high tension pylons because we work in accordance to EU regulations.
"Bear in mind that every electrical device causes an electromagnetic field. Some electrical appliances create an electromagnetic field that is stronger than that created by high-tension wires.
"We live in an electromagnetic soup. If it was that dangerous, we would have been dead a long time ago."
Roussos said that there were currently two problems in the Troodos area. One is that the pylons are wooden.
"Had the pylons been made of steel, there wouldn't have been a power cut during the fire," he said.
"The other problem is that there was only one line that supplied the towns. In order to have a constant supply of electricity you need to have not one, but two lines in case, like last week, there is a fire and you are stuck without electricity. If there had been two lines there we wouldn't have had a problem."
Roussos said that dealing with residents was a no-win situation.
"When we want to install lines for their convenience, they complain of health hazards. But when they don't have power they accuse us of not doing our job properly," he said.
"I believe that the reason that they complain is that they don't want the land to devalue after the pylons are installed."
But he reserved praise for EAC employees, some of whom had to be called in from their holidays to repair nearly three kilometres of burned up pylons in record time.
"These guys are out there come rain or shine, and truly they are worthy of praise," Roussos said.
"They worked non-stop, and if you think that every pylon has a distance of 300 metres, the guys managed to install three kilometres of line in two days."
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Fire chief defends efforts over valley infernoBy Alex Mita
FIRE Service Chief, George Hadjigeorgiou, yesterday defended his department's efforts in the operation to contain last week's devastating fires in Kourris valley between Limassol and Troodos, saying it had been a highly co-ordinated success between the services involved.
The blaze, which broke out on Thursday and incinerated over 18 square kilometres of shrub, fruit and olive trees, and gutted a restaurant and a cardboard box factory, has been described as the worst ecological disaster ever to hit the area.
But residents of Alassa, the village worst hit by the inferno, say the Fire Service did little to stop the flames from engulfing the 'Alassa' restaurant and the cardboard box factory.
At the time of the blaze, there was only one fire engine in the village and it had run out of water. Bewildered firemen told the Cyprus Mailat the time they had run out of water and that there was nothing they could do except wait until another truck came.
But Hadjigeorgiou yesterday dismissed the accusations, saying his department did everything possible to deal with the blaze.
"All available vehicles, not only from Limassol, but from all nearby stations were dispatched to the area," he said.
"When the fire started in Alassa on different fronts, the winds were so strong, and the fire was so intense that it blocked off parts of the road leading to the village. There was no chance that fire engines could get to the village in time. So the vehicles started to fight the fire inside the village with what they had available."
Hadjigeorgiou insisted there was more than one fire engine on the scene.
"If the fire engine run out of water, these things happen. The 15 trucks we had available were dispatched to the area," Hadjigeorgiou said.
"But we cannot leave urban centres without fire engines, because, after all, it is within our duty to protect those cities as well."
The Chief said the fire had spread so quickly that it was impossible to be everywhere at the same time.
"Our forces are dispatched where they are most needed. I couldn't say, let's send them all to Alassa and leave the rest of the area at the mercy of God.
"The factory had no chance. It burned because there was a thick sea of shrub around it, and the fire was fuelled by the material that was used there and the chemicals," Hadjigeorgiou said.
Asked whether the Fire Service is understaffed and under-equipped, the Chief said there had been a meeting with the relevant authorities, who had decided to order more equipment, including state-of-the-art fire engines.
"By the end of the year we will have new equipment, which will include new fire fighting vehicles and specially equipped vehicles that will be used by the Special Disaster Reaction Unit (EMAK)."
Hadjigeorgiou said he had been in the area at the time of the fire and that the way the fire had been handled was according to plan.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Limassol: arson capital of CyprusBy Stefanos Evripidou
LIMASSOL is the car arson capital of Cyprus, with 191 attacks reported there since 1987, more than double than the figure for Nicosia.
A Simerini report yesterday released details of car arsons in Cyprus over the last 15 years.
In the first six months of this year alone, Limassol had 12 arson attacks on vehicles, already equalling its average since 1987, compared to four in Nicosia, six in Larnaca, four in Paphos and two in Famagusta.
In total, from 1987 until the end of June 2002, Limassol reported 191 car bomb attacks, while Nicosia had 93, Larnaca, 75, Paphos, 49, Famagusta, 41 and the Morphou district two.
Offenders are rarely brought to justice.
Limassol's deputy Police Director, Andreas Kariolemas, said yesterday the nature of the crime made it difficult for police to investigate successfully, leaving many investigations open indefinitely.
Regarding the poor police record in solving car arson crimes, Limassol leads again with none of the 23 car bomb crimes committed last year being solved. In Nicosia, two of the nine cases were concluded, while none of the three in Famagusta were solved. In Paphos, only one of 10 arson attacks were solved while Larnaca police closed only two out of 18 cases. The culprits of the sole car bomb perpetrated in the Morphou district last year were never found.
Kariolemos attributed the poor results to the character of the crime. "Culprits usually work under the cover of darkness. The police's task is hardly helped by complainants who refuse to inform us in any way of the problems or threats they may have faced before the attack," he said.
Kariolemos said many victims were reluctant to co-operate because they themselves were involved in criminal activity or had been involved things like in adultery. He acknowledged that the police, given information, were aware of many of the culprits, without the victims revealing possible motives, but were unable to make arrests for lack of evidence.
Asked why the situation in Limassol was so bad, Kariolemos said: "Limassol does not have the homogeneity that Nicosia enjoys. As the capital hosting the central government, there is stable employment. In Limassol, employment is less reliable and the population is made of people coming from the four corners of Cyprus, especially since the Turkish invasion. You cannot compare the two."
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Cyprus pays respects to veteran journalistJOURNALISTS, politicians and ordinary people gathered yesterday to pay their last respects to veteran reporter Christakis Katsambas, who died on Sunday at the age of 77.
Katsambas died in the Nicosia general hospital, where he was being treated in the past few weeks for heart and kidney problems.
The Journalists Union said Katsambas' death left a gaping void in journalism, which he had served non-stop for half a century with consistency, dedication, professionalism and ethos.
Born in Nicosia in 1925, in 1944 Katsambas joined AKEL, where he participated in the foundation of the party's youth wing.
He was arrested by the British with another 130 AKEL members in 1955 and was one of the last prisoners to be released in April 1957.
After his release he joined Phileleftheros as a reporter and gradually worked his way up.
In 1994 he resigned his position to run as deputy with DISY.
He was not elected, but became deputy after Alecos Markides, who was a DISY deputy, was appointed Attorney-general.
He continued his career in journalism as an adviser at Phileleftheros where he also wrote a daily column.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 KISOS congress endorses Omirou candidacyBy a Staff Reporter
KISOS Chairman Yiannakis Omirou was the second presidential candidate to throw his name into the hat on Sunday as opinion polls for next year's elections gave contradictory indications on who is likely to be elected.
The KISOS national party congress on Sunday endorsed by an overwhelming majority the central committee's proposal for Omirou to stand as candidate in the presidential elections.
Out of a total of 842 members, 799 voted in favour of the proposal, while 43 voted for a proposal tabled by party deputy Doros Theodorou for KISOS to remain in the three-party opposition coalition with AKEL and DIKO.
The decision gave the coup de grace to any hopes of KISOS returning to the coalition, which approved DIKO Chairman Tassos Papadopoulos as its presidential candidate.
But according to Politis, opinion polls have been taking centre stage in recent days, as parties not only use them to gauge support, but also to form public opinion.
Politis said the parties were ordering one survey after another, and carefully timing their release.
At the weekend, the results of two polls - one ordered by KISOS and published by Politis and one published by the DIAS media group without disclosing who commissioned it -- became public just hours before the KISOS congress.
Politis, however reported that the second poll, which favoured Papadopoulos, had been commissioned by AKEL, and the party had decided to leak it to DIAS on the eve of the KISOS congress, with the condition not to disclose who had commissioned it.
The survey of 700 voters, carried out between July 22 and 26, showed that if Papadopoulos and Omirou went head to head, Papadopoulos would receive 46.6 per cent of the vote and Omirou 36.2 per cent.
Papadopoulos again came top when the scenario involved him, Omirou and Attorney-general Alecos Markides fighting for the presidency.
Papadopoulos got 45 per cent of the vote, Markides came second with 31.5 per cent, while Omirou received 11.4 per cent.
It was the same when Foreign Minister Yiannakis Cassoulides stood instead of Markides - Papadoppoulos had 45.6 per cent, Cassoulides 34.7 per cent and Omirou 11.4 per cent.
However, the survey ordered by KISOS showed Omirou trailing by just 1.6 per cent - 40.2 to 38.6.
Over 20 per cent of the sample abstained, according to the poll.
KISOS' poll used a sample of 1,000 people and was carried out between July 18 and 25.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Man electrocuted by lawnmowerBy Soteris Charalambous
A LIMASSOL man was electrocuted on Sunday trying to fix a lawnmower he had failed to disconnect from the mains, police said yesterday.
Yiorgos Theodoulou, 28, was killed attempting to carry out repairs on his electric lawnmower after it stopped while he was mowing the lawn.
According to police, Theodoulou had been mowing the lawn on Sunday morning. At around 11.30am, the lawn mower stopped working and he decided to open the power supply, suffering a massive electric shock. He was found unconscious and immediately taken to Limassol General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
State coroner Sophocles Sophocleous carried out the autopsy and confirmed that the cause of death was electrocution and that "there were no other injuries sustained in the incident".
A spokesman for Limassol police said yesterday: "It appears that the death was an accident. He was carrying out a repair on the electric lawnmower and had not disconnected it from the mains supply."
The investigation into Theodoulou's death has been handed over to Limassol CID. They are awaiting a report from the State Electromechanical service, who examined the equipment involved and the electrical installation of the house.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Management seeks to resume water production despite strikeBy Soteris Charalambous
MANAGEMENT at the Larnaca desalination plant yesterday held all-day talks with government officials in an effort to restore production of drinking water at the strike-hit plant.
Plant Manager Phanos Pantechis told the Cyprus Mail they had been forced to bring operations to a halt on Saturday because the strikers' blockade of the entrance to the plant had created "safety issues". He maintained, however, that the plant was still fully operational.
"If the Government and police can assure the management of the plant - that there is going to be free access to the plant for staff and the chemicals that we need - then I don't see any reason why the plant cannot operate again."
Management were in negotiations all day with government officials from the Water Development Department, and the Immigration and Interior Ministries with a view to establishing safe passage into the plant for staff and supplies.
Pantechis added that pressure exerted on a Dutch engineer who refused to go on strike not to enter the plant was so great that "he suffered a nervous breakdown," although he was expected to return to the plant this week.
According to Pantechis a previous attempt to prevent him entering the plant using immigration officials had failed. The engineer was faced with the prospect of being forced to leave Cyprus, his Cypriot wife and two children after an administrative oversight on one of his work permits revealed that the name of his current employer had not been updated to read the Pelagos plant. Pantechis added the error had now been corrected.
The strike by the operations workers started after the plant management refused to meet trade union demands to enter into a collective agreement once personal employment contracts expired this month.
During construction of the plant in 2000, union members were employed under a collective agreement with Pelagos. A number of those employed during construction of the plant were offered positions and trained as operational staff under personal employment contracts that began in July 2001.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002
 Synod to seek medical council advice on ArchbishopBy George Psyllides
A DECISION on whether the Holy Synod can convene in the absence of the ailing Archbishop will be taken after medical council reports on the primate's condition, Bishop Chrysostomos of Kiti said yesterday.
Members of the Synod met yesterday to discuss the matter, but after a vote, the bishops are understood to have decided that the Holy Synod could not convene in the absence of the Archbishop, who has, for the past three months been receiving treatment in Greece after a fall in which he suffered head and back injuries.
Speaking after the meeting, Chrysostomos said: "We can't, whether they want it or not, convene as a Holy Synod".
He added that it had been decided during the meeting for the medical council to convene on August 8 and issue a report on the Archbishop's health.
"When we get the council's report then we will decide," Chrysostomos said.
He added: "We will decide based on the medical council's report."
He reiterated that, based on the Church Charter, the members of the Synod could not summon a "regular Holy Synod" without the Archbishop.
Chrysostomos said the wanted the doctors to inform them about the developments in the primate's health; whether therapy should continue and if he would have to remain in the private clinic where he is now or be transferred to Cyprus.
The Bishop declined to disclose any details on the vote, but repeated that there would not be a Synod without the doctor's prognosis.
The bishop added that his proposal asking the Attorney-general to intervene to investigate allegations of irregularities in the handling of Church property had not been accepted by the other members of the synod.
He said that a proposal to summon the Health Minister before the members in order to arrange for the state to take over the Archbishop's treatment had also been rejected.
"The Health Minister has set the condition that the Holy Synod should authorise him before he moved," Chrysostomos said.
Copyright Cyprus Mail 2002