NEWS

In Brief

Earthquake

Meligalas in Messinia hit for third time in two years A moderate earthquake measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale struck the area of Messinia in the southern Peloponnese early yesterday morning, but local police reported no injuries or damage. The quake’s epicenter was just north of the village of Meligalas, 180 kilometers southwest of Athens, the Athens Geodynamic Institute said. The same village was hit on September 16 last year by a strong earthquake, measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale, which caused many old buildings – already damaged from an even stronger quake in July 2000 – to collapse. Meligalas is 30 kilometers north of the town of Kalamata where 20 people died following a major earthquake in 1986. Stray round Bullet in Karamanlis’s car dismissed as festive shot A bullet found lodged in the roof of New Democracy chairman Costas Karamanlis’s car on New Year’s Eve was yesterday attributed by a spokesman for the main opposition party to «festive gunshots» fired by neighbors. The ND leader’s car had been parked on Monday night outside the Inter-Continental Hotel, where the opposition leader and his wife were celebrating New Year’s Eve with officers of the armed forces in a ceremony also attended by President Costis Stephanopoulos. Police are investigating the incident, despite an official statement from the opposition party’s office that the bullet was probably fired by neighbors to celebrate the changeover to 2002 and had not been intended for Karamanlis or his car. FYROM Foreign minister visits Foreign Minister George Papandreou will today meet his visiting counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Slobodan Casule. Casule’s Athens visit follows the recent statement by FYROM Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski that his country «needs an economic and customs association with Greece,» stressing that Greece’s neighbor could have faced bankruptcy last year had it not been for Greek investments. Hit-and-run arrest. Police in Serres, northern Greece, yesterday arrested an Albanian national for allegedly causing the death of a 62-year-old woman in a road accident in the early hours of New Year’s Day before driving away. Chrysoula Vryza was killed after 28-year-old Victor Kreka, who allegedly wrongly claimed right of way, smashed the tractor he was driving into the tractor in which Vryza was traveling with her husband on the Serres-Drama highway. Kreka then allegedly drove off, leaving Vryza dead and her husband, Georgios Vryzas, 66, injured. Cypriot tanker. A Cypriot tanker ran aground off the southwest coast of England yesterday, prompting the evacuation from their homes of around 150 residents of Plymouth after authorities warned the vessel might explode. Police imposed an exclusion zone around the Cypriot-registered Willy after it ran onto rocks near Plymouth just before 11 p.m. GMT, shortly after unloading its cargo at the port. An approximately one-kilometer-long oil slick formed around the vessel but authorities do not fear a major pollution incident because the main tanks were empty, reports said. The tanks still contain petroleum fumes which could trigger an explosion. Fires. The Catholic church in Aghioi Anargyroi Square in western Athens was seriously damaged by fire broke just before 1 a.m. yesterday morning. It is thought the fire was caused by an electrical short circuit. Another fire that broke out minutes later near Vari, on the southern outskirts of Athens, destroyed 19 yachts up on blocks in a storage yard. Loser wins. The Supreme Court has overturned an appeal by a man against the blocking of a check for 31 million drachmas given to him by the loser of an illegal bet. The issuer – and blocker – of the check allegedly amassed debts of 31 million drachmas after failing to correctly predict the results of soccer games played during the 1998 World Cup in France in an illegal bet between the two men. The loser prepared a postdated check but then prevented the winner from cashing it. The fact the bet was illegal meant any claims for payment were non-viable, the court said.