Helicopter salvage bid complete with raising of second engine, parts A navy-led operation to salvage the wreckage of an army helicopter that crashed off Mount Athos last month, killing all 17 occupants, has been completed with the recovery of the Chinook’s second engine and other parts from the seabed of the northern Aegean, the Defense Ministry said yesterday. The wreckage is expected to help experts determine the causes of the crash, it said. The salvage bid, which started at the beginning of October, used pioneering methods to raise the wreckage from a depth of 866 meters, the ministry said. AEGEAN TENSION Turkish sea and air violations Five formations of Turkish fighter jets yesterday violated Greek national air space 11 times in the northern and central Aegean, military sources said. The 12 Turkish jets were chased off by as many Greek aircraft and there were three simulated dogfights. Also yesterday, a Turkish coast guard patrol vessel entered Greek territorial waters, 500 meters from the Aegean islet of Imia, where it lingered for seven minutes before withdrawing. The incidents came one day after Athens officially complained to Ankara about a spate of such violations. Bank blast A homemade explosive device, comprising two gas canisters, damaged the entrance of a bank in Peristeri, western Athens, when it detonated at about 3.30 a.m. yesterday. Witnesses said they saw two men speeding away from the scene on a motorcycle shortly before the blast occurred. There was no claim of responsibility. Bank robbers A robbery ring that allegedly included a former police officer netted around 355,000 euros in eight bank raids over the past two years – seven in Attica and one on Corfu, police said yesterday after arresting two Greeks in Kypseli on Wednesday. Police now have their sights on two other suspected members, also Greek. One is already detained in Korydallos Prison and the second, a former police officer, is at large. The ex-officer had been in service when some of the robberies were conducted, police said. Defense budget The government will increase the air force’s operational budget by 175 million euros, Deputy Defense Minister Yiannis Lambropoulos said yesterday, stressing that better training and aircraft maintenance were priorities following the crash of two F16s last week. Meanwhile, the ministry said it had been bequeathed 1 million euros in assets from Greece’s former consul in Ankara, Aristotelis Viglas, who died last June. Strike Public sector workers demonstrated through the center of Athens yesterday seeking better pay and bonuses, during a 24-hour strike that affected most of the civil service. Army convictions A Xanthi court yesterday convicted an army lieutenant and two sergeants for the manslaughter of a 23-year-old sergeant who died in a hand-grenade explosion in Evros in September of last year. Lieutenant Vassileios Avgerakis received a suspended sentence of two years and 10 months and sergeants Giorgos Getsis and Maria Antonopoulou got suspended sentences of two years and two months. Stephanos Farakis had mistaken the hand grenade for a smoke bomb during a training exercise. Cavalry Major Antonis Anastassios hanged himself when he learned of Farakis’s death. Cretan locusts Agricultural authorities in Hania were on standby yesterday following the appearance of swarms of red locusts across the Cretan prefecture on Wednesday. Authorities stopped short of using pesticides against the locusts – believed to have come from Africa – in order to protect other local flora and fauna.