Cab charges up by an average of 8.5 percent from today Taxi fares increase by an average of 8.5 percent today, with the flag rate rising to 85 cents from 75 cents and the minimum fare increasing to 1.75 euros from 1.60 euros, according to last week’s decision by Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis. The single charge rises to 30 cents per kilometer (from 28 cents) and the double (nighttime) charge to 56 cents per kilometer (from 53 cents). ROAD SAFETY Greeks among most likely to drive without seatbelts, Eurostat says Greeks are among the most confident Europeans in driving without their seatbelts and admit to using their mobile phones while driving, according to a survey by the EU’s statistics service Eurostat made public yesterday. Of the Greeks questioned for the survey, which was carried out between November 14 and December 17 2003, 32 percent said it was not necessary to wear a seatbelt if driving carefully, compared to an EU average of 19 percent. Also, 35 percent admitted to using their mobile phone while driving at least once a day. OA SUITORS Aegean says it is interested Private Greek air carrier Aegean Airlines said yesterday it is one of the companies that has expressed an interest in acquiring state-owned Olympic Airlines. «Aegean Airlines has submitted non-binding interest in buying the flight operations of Olympic Airlines,» the company said. On Friday, the government announced it had received expressions of interest in buying the carrier from «several» local and domestic investors, without releasing any further details. (AP) Weather warning The General Secretariat for Civil Protection yesterday warned regional authorities to prepare for bad weather today. Heavy rain and thunderstorms are expected in western Greece, Macedonia, Thrace and the northern and eastern Aegean, with storms forecast for Attica in the morning. Southerly winds are expected to reach 11 Beaufort and there will be snow in mountainous areas. Ferries yesterday were confined to port in Piraeus and Rafina. Turkish violations Eleven formations of Turkish fighter jets yesterday violated Greek national air space in the northern, central and southern Aegean eight times before being chased off by Greek fighters, military sources said. Food poisoning Fifty army conscripts were yesterday hospitalized in Argos, Nafplion and Tripolis with symptoms of food poisoning. It was thought that the breakfast served at a military training center in Nafplion on Saturday was to blame for the symptoms but there was no official announcement confirming this yesterday. Laboratory tests should provide conclusive results in the next few days, doctors said. Olympic committee Shipping and media tycoon Minos Kyriakou was yesterday almost unanimously elected as the new president of the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC). Representatives of four new sporting federations – whose establishment many HOC members had viewed as an attempt by the government to gain greater control of the HOC’s executive committee – did not participate in the vote. Of the 25 members present, 23 voted for Kyriakou and two cast blank ballots. Worksite death A 51-year-old mechanic was yesterday crushed to death by a garbage truck driven by a 55-year-old colleague at a municipal garage near Asgourou on Rhodes. Vangelis Koumbiadis was crushed between two benches by a truck that Constantinos Psaros, 55, had been trying to park for repairs. Psaras, 55, who had been Koumbiadis’s friend for 20 years, was in the hospital yesterday after suffering a nervous breakdown. Teachers protest Primary and secondary school teachers as well as university and technical college professors are to stage three-hour work stoppages tomorrow as the National Education Council convenes to discuss improvements to the state education system. Unionists announced the action yesterday, reiterating their skepticism about a positive conclusion to the government’s debate.