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Athens News Agency: News in English, 06-01-09

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

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

CONTENTS

  • [01] Premier, authorities assess damage after Sunday's earthquake
  • [02] Finmin contradicting himself, opposition says

  • [01] Premier, authorities assess damage after Sunday's earthquake

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Monday expressed the state's support for those facing problems in the wake of an earthquake near Kythira that shook the entire country on Sunday, while local authorities on Kythira and nearby Crete sent out teams to make an assessment of the damage caused.

    The main opposition PASOK party voiced its support towards all those citizens who may have suffered any problems due to the earthquake, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) accused the government and former PASOK governments for the lack of infrastructure necessary to deal with earthquakes in a statement issued on Monday.

    The damage reported so far has been limited in spite of the magnitude of the quake, which measured 6.9 on the Richter scale. Seismologists have essentially ruled out the possibility of strong aftershocks in the region, noting that the largest tremor since Sunday was a 4 Richter earthquake at 7.34 on Monday morning.

    Emerging from his offices, Karamanlis also praised the prompt response to the quake by state services.

    Teams from the Anti-Seismic Protection Organisation (OASP) and the Piraeus Prefecture arrived on the island of Kythira on Monday morning to assess the extent of damage of buildings. Deputy Education Minister George Kalos announced on Monday that all 12 school buildings on the island had been inspected and that only one kidnergarten and day-care centre in a leased building had suffered damage.

    The ministry said that prefabricated containers will be shipped out to the island to temporarily cover the kidnergarten's housing needs. Damage has also been reported to two kidnergartens in Lakonia, in the Peloponnese, while teams of inspectors have been sent out to examine school buildings in Attica and Saronic Gulf islands that may have been damaged by the quake.

    The Local Union of Municipalities and Communities of Attica (TEDKNA), meanwhile, has pledged 50,000 in aid to deal with problems caused by the earthquake and will be sending a delegation to the island on Tuesday to view the damage first-hand and decide if it is possible to provide technical assistance.

    Also badly hit by the earthquake was Hania on Crete, where an emergency meeting was held at the prefecture chaired by Prefect George Katsanevakis. According to the initial estimates, the damage was mainly confined to older buildings in the old city and the Venetian shipyard.

    About 40 buildings have cracked walls, fallen plaster or fallen masonry but none is considered to be dangerous. Teams of experts have spent the day examining schools and public buildings, which remained closed on Monday, while problems were found in a school for autistic children in Agios Ioannis, two primary schools and one highschool.

    Seismologists said that much of the worst was avoided because the epicentre of the earthquake was at an intermediate depth of 75 metres beneath the sea, which absorbed alot of the energy released.

    According to the head of the Thessaloniki University Geophysics Laboratory Manolis Skordilis, the earthquake's depth was also the reason why the tremor was felt in so many areas of the country, even as far away as Italy or Egypt.

    "Earthquakes of intermediate depth are felt at a great distance but do not cause great destruction at the epicentre and do not trigger neighbouring faults, unlike surface quakes," he said, noting that it would be difficult for the quake to set off an earthquake in the neighbouring southern Aegean fault.

    Opposition comments on Sunday's earthquake

    The main opposition PASOK party voiced its support towards all those citizens who may have suffered any problems due to the powerful earthquake that rocked most of Greece over the weekend, while the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) accused the current government and former PASOK governments for the lack of infrastructure necessary to deal with earthquakes in a statement issued on Monday.

    PASOK Spokesman Nikos Athanassakis said that "we are all relieved that the epicenter was such that we didn't have greater or more serious problems."

    KKE said that the need for protecting the country from earthquakes and minimising related damage is a priority, but noted that while Greece is one of the most seismogenic countries in the EU, anti-earthquake measures are taken in a haphazard manner.

    In order to better prepare for earthquakes, KKE demands more research, strict monitoring of construction of buildings, ensuring workers' safety at the workplace, inspecting schools and any other buildings where youngsters congregate and educating citizens on how to respond in case of an earthquake.

    [02] Finmin contradicting himself, opposition says

    The main opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on Monday accused Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis of contradicting himself.

    "We are asking him to tell the truth. Last week he said the 2006 budget could not be implemented and that he would seek an extension of (EU) supervision for a year," PASOK economy spokeswoman Vasso Papandreou said in a statement.

    "Today he tells us that he will achieve the deficit-reduction target to below 3.0%. When is he telling the truth?" Papandreou queried.

    She also accused Alogoskoufis of reducing real income for employees and pensioners.

    In a separate statement, the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology accused him of "fierce" neoliberal policies.

    "The finance minister today confirmed that for the government the new year will be devoted entirely to strengthening privilege and hyper-profits for major business groups," the party's economic and social spokesman, Panayiotis Lafazanis, said.

    "But working people will see their industrial rights restricted and experience tough austerity," Lafazanis stated.


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