NEWS

In Brief

WEATHER WOES

Storm damage estimated at 400 mln euros, not counting highways Damage to roads, water and sewage networks by the past weeks’ storms will cost an estimated 400 million euro to repair, government ministers found during an emergency meeting yesterday. This does not include the severe destruction wreaked upon two major national roads in the Peloponnese, nor the results of Tuesday’s floods in the Cyclades that resulted in eight islands being declared in a state of emergency. Authorities on the islands have already received a total of 100,000 euros for emergency repairs. Meanwhile, the Public Works Ministry said a new hot line (1521) to field complaints on poor road maintenance attracted more than 2,500 callers in its first three days of operation. Of the complaints, 91 percent concerned potholes, especially in central Athens, Kifissia, Halandri and Acharnes. HELICOPTER CRASH ND MP gives prosecutor allegedly incriminating correspondence A New Democracy deputy yesterday gave a Piraeus prosecutor three suitcases of alleged correspondence between the National First Aid Center (EKAB) and Italian firm Helitalia operating EKAB’s helicopters, one of which crashed last Tuesday with four aboard. According to Petros Mandouvalos – who said an EKAB employee gave him the suitcases after the crash – the letters refer to damage to helicopters, sometimes false in order to claim money, sometimes real. Mandouvalos said the documents had disappeared after the first EKAB helicopter crashed in January 2001. Meanwhile, rescue efforts continued yesterday to locate the four-man crew and fuselage of the Agusta A109E. Three helicopters have crashed. SHIP EXPLOSION 12 crew, engineers face trial Twelve people are to be tried in connection with an explosion on a ship moored at Perama in October 2001 which killed five people, a Piraeus misdemeanors council ruled yesterday. Of the 12 men who face trial – including the Sailor’s captain, first engineer, sailors and mechanics – four were members of an inspection team whose responsibility was to ensure that the use of a live flame during repair work did not flout safety regulations. Security exercise Public Order Ministry officials and representatives of the Athens 2004 Organizing Committee were yesterday briefed on the progress of armed forces staff in perfecting crisis-management techniques ahead of next summer’s Olympic Games, during the first trial of a new electronic surveillance and communications system. The week-long «Nearchos 2003» exercise – which ends tomorrow – has been familiarizing armed forces staff with the new C4I system that enables chiefs of staff to have access to more comprehensive information and be able to communicate more efficiently among themselves. Communications failure Greece ranks 42nd out of 82 nations in terms of its ability to benefit from information and communications technology, according to an international report made public yesterday. The report – compiled by the World Economic Forum, World Bank and the French-based international business school INSEAD – put Finland in first place. Metro satisfaction Most Athenians (85 percent) traveling on the city’s Metro are happy with the service and 95 percent feel safe on metro journeys, according to a poll conducted by the firm which manages the metro made public yesterday. Off for the Gulf The frigate Kountouriotis is to set off for the Persian Gulf on Sunday, to replace its sister frigate Hydra, which has been participating in the US-led military operation «Enduring Freedom,» the navy said yesterday. The Kountouriotis is due back in June. Balkan crime Public Order Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said yesterday he will present Greece’s proposals on how to tackle organized crime in the western Balkans during a meeting of European Union officials in the northern town of Veria on February 27-28. No ambulances National First Aid Center (EKAB) staff are to stage a five-hour work stoppage from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. today.