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Athens News Agency: News in English (PM), 99-11-24

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

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

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 24/11/1999 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Northern Greece hit by 5.0 quake
  • First snow falls in Florina
  • Bridge collapses, trapping 15
  • Cyprus EU bid should be judged on criteria, not politics
  • Ecologists appeal to parents to avoid war toys
  • NATO exercise begins amid threats of protests
  • Thessaloniki European movie capital?
  • Icon donations to buy homes for quake homeless
  • Greek stocks hit by inflation worries
  • Weather
  • Foreign Exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Northern Greece hit by 5.0 quake

A strong earthquake measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale jolted northwestern Greece early today and first police reports from the region said there was no damage or casualties. The tremor was recorded at 5.38 local time and, according to the Thessaloniki University observatory, had an epicentre 320 kilometres northwest of Athens in the regions of Ioannina and Igoumenitsa. It was also felt on the island of Corfu. Prominent seismologist Gerasimos Papadopoulos told ANA that the intensity of the quake was slightly dangerous since it was not immediately known whether it was the main tremor although he hastened to add that tremors of such moderate intensity were common to the area.

First snow falls in Florina

The first snows of the season were recorded in western Macedonia on Wednesday, marking the advent of a late winter to Greece. Snow fell in the northern Greek border town of Florina early in the morning, with the mercury showing the temperature at one degree below zero. Snowfall was confined to mountain areas elsewhere across northern Greece. Temperatures ranged from 5 to 10 degress Celsius across the region, with the weather forecast to be sunny but bitingly cold. In Florina and the surrounding regions, however, skies were overcast and those travelling on roads in the region were forced to use snow chains.

Bridge collapses, trapping 15

A bridge under construction on the outskirts of Athens collapsed at around midday on Wednesday, trapping an estimated 15 workmen. According to initial reports, six of 10 people rescued from the rubble were slightly injured. Ten Fire Brigade vehicles with a crew of 40 have rushed to scene, five kilometres outside the neighbourhood of Paenia. Another two people are listed as missing; authorities said they feared they might have been killed by the collapsing cement.

Cyprus EU bid should be judged on criteria, not politics

Greece said on Wednesday that it wanted Cyprus' inclusion to the European Union be judged on the basis of accession criteria and not its political problem. "The issue of a resolution of the Cyprus issue is not an issue of coercion," government spokesman Dimitris Reppas said. Reppas said it was "nonsensical" for a country being considered for inclusion in the European Union to be "held hostage" by Turkey, a country which is not even a member of the European Union. Relations between Europe and Turkey will be judged at the EU summit in Helsinki and that is the time when the government will deal with the problems, Reppas said.

Ecologists appeal to parents to avoid war toys

The Ecological Movement of Thessaloniki today appealed to parents and relatives of small children to resist buying war toys and games for children despite advertising pressure. In a statement issued on the occasion of today's World Day Against War Games, the Movement called on adults, particularly in view of the upcoming Christmas and New Year holidays, "to refuse to orient their children towards toys and games that cultivate violence and aggressiveness". "You cannot reject war and at the same time prepare for war," the Movement said, quoting Albert Einstein.

NATO exercise begins amid threats of protests

A joint Greek and British NATO naval exercise began at dawn today in the southwestern part of the Peloponnese peninsula amid reports that local peace activists planned to stage a protest demonstration in the region. The exercise, code-named "Argonaut '99", was scheduled to begin yesterday at Elia Trifyllias, but was postponed for a day due to adverse weather conditions and Greek and British warships anchored off Pylos (Navarino) waiting for weather clearance. A military spokesman said the manoeuvre was part of programmed NATO exercises. The Messinia Peace Committee and the local Youth Action for peace said a protest march at Kalo Nero against the staging of the exercise would be held this afternoon.

Thessaloniki European movie capital?

Residents of the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki appear to be movie buffs, compared to the rest of the country and Europe generally, according to figures collated by the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. Thessaloniki residents take in an average of 2.4 films a year, compared to just one a year for residents in other Greek cities and an average of two per year for European city dwellers. The Festival announced on Wednesday that a record 68,000 tickets were sold to the festival this year, the 40th year it has been held. The most popular screenings of the some 150 movies at the festival were the films of Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, who had a retrospective in his honour at the festival this year.

Icon donations to buy homes for quake homeless

Money donated by the thousands of devout who flocked to worship one of Orthodoxy's most reveered icons will be used to purchase pre-fabricated homes for those made homeless by the September 7 earthquake, a committee decided on Wednesday. More than 476 million drachmas - or about $1.5 million - was raised by the rare visit outside the confines of the autonomous monastic community of 'Axion Esti', probably Orthodoxy's most revered relic. The icon has left the hallowed ground of the Mount only four times in its more than thousand year history - twice to be worshipped in Athens, once in Thessaloniki and once in Cyprus. It was greeted in Athens with full state honours. Originally scheduled to leave on October 26, the icon's stay was extended twice, due to popular demand. According to some estimates, one in eight Athenians visited the icon. It is estimated that each worshipper spent an average of five hours in line waiting to kiss the icon.

Greek stocks hit by inflation worries

Equity prices ended sharply lower on Wednesday pushing the general index below the 5,400 level hit by worries over the impact of rising oil prices on the inflation rate. Traders said talk that the Capital Market's Committee has began surprise inspections on brokerage firms also undermined sentiment. The general index ended 2.72 percent down at 5,381.76 points, off the day's lows of 5,310 points. Turnover was 316 billion drachmas. Smaller capitalisation stocks were badly hit with the relative index closing 3.77 percent lower. The FTSE/ASE 20 index for blue chip and heavy traded stocks ended 2.26 percent lower at 2,632.75 points.

WEATHER

Fine weather with a further drop in temperatuires is forecast in most parts of Greece today with local rainfall in eastern Macedonia, Thrace and the northern and eastern Aegean islands. Gradual improvement expected later in the day. Winds north northwesterly, medium to strong, and very strong in Aegean and Ionian seas. Athens sunny with temperatures between 5-15C. Same in Thessaloniki with temperatures from 5-10C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying)
U.S. dollar          315.773
Pound sterling       513.181
Japanese yen (100)   301.628
French franc          49.724
German mark          166.768
Italian lira (100)    16.845
Irish Punt           414.150
Belgian franc          8.085
Finnish mark          54.858
Dutch guilder        148.009
Danish kr.            43.858
Austrian sch.         23.704
Spanish peseta         1.960
Swedish kr.           37.918
Norwegian kr.         39.916
Swiss franc          203.722
Port. Escudo           1.627
Can. dollar          214.847
Aus. dollar          201.421
Cyprus pound         564.448
Euro                 326.170
(M.P.)
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