NEWS

In Brief

BIRD FLU

Greece is 'fully protected' against virus, Agriculture Ministry says Greece is «fully protected» against the threat of bird flu, currently thought to be spreading westward from Asia, Deputy Agricultural Development and Food Minister Alexandros Kontos said yesterday. «A number of precautionary measures against this disease have been taken... and a strategy drafted to prevent it from entering our country,» Kontos said. Ongoing inspections at poultry farms have found no trace of the virus, he said, adding that customs officials were working closely with state veterinarians to avert illegal imports. «There have never been any cases of avian flu in Greece,» Kontos added. FLIGHT DISRUPTION OA staff to strike next Wednesday over labor rights, flight safety levels Flights may be subject to disruptions next Wednesday, August 31, if Olympic Airlines (OA) flight attendants go ahead with a 24-hour strike called yesterday. Workers are demanding that OA enforce a collective labor contract, which they say has already been signed, and that it maintain a high level of safety which, according to workers, has been neglected over the past year. MIGRANTS DROWN Two die, seven missing off Lesvos Coast guards were searching yesterday for seven illegal immigrants off the coast of Lesvos, after another two drowned when the boat they were sailing capsized. Officers said the accident occurred on Wednesday as the migrants rushed to one side of the boat when a coast guard patrol approached their vessel. Coast guards managed to rescue 40 migrants from the sea. Their nationality was not made known. Boy drowns A 13-year-old boy drowned off the island of Rhodes yesterday, authorities said, the second drowning at the same beach in recent weeks. The boy had been swimming with his relatives in the bay of Kallithea. University success More than 60 percent of high school students who sat university entry tests this spring have gained admission to the country's tertiary institutions, according to figures released yesterday by the Education Ministry. Out of the 129,380 students tested, 81,021 have been accepted for tertiary-level courses. Asbestos removed Some 35 tons of asbestos were removed from school buildings in Iraklion in Crete this summer in a bid to make the facilities safer, local prefect officials said yesterday. The carcinogenic material will be sent to Germany, where it will be disposed of in a specially designed receptacle. Crews will remove 45 more tons of asbestos from a total of 37 schools in Crete in coming months. Devilish probe Athens prosecutor Alexandra Stathopoulou yesterday ordered a preliminary investigation into all those involved in the advertising campaign for Black Devil cigarettes. The General Secretariat for Consumers referred Tobacco Kiosk Hellas and Media Master to prosecutors this week over delays in taking down billboards for the cigarettes, which were deemed to suggest similarities with marijuana. Stathopoulou wants to establish whether those involved may be guilty of encouraging others to use drugs. Gasoline fines The Athens prefecture slapped 11 fines totaling 188,000 euros on gasoline companies for selling diluted fuel products. The financial crimes squad sent product samples to the state laboratory, which determined that the petrol had been diluted, in some cases by almost 100 percent. The government has launched a crackdown upon the illegal petrol trade in a bid to tap billions of euros in lost tax revenues. Stray dogs Following a spate of poisonings in the capital's western suburbs, the Athens Municipality said yesterday it will keep running its stray dog protection program. The 1.7-million-euro scheme involves sterilization, adoption, and medical care to stray animals. An estimated 25,000 dogs are on the loose in Athens. Armed robbery Two armed men held up a branch of Agricultural Bank in Palaio Faliron, southeastern Athens, yesterday and made off with an unknown sum, police said. The two men were wearing sunglasses and baseball caps, and fled from the bank on a motorbike.

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