NEWS

Blizzards killed over 30,000 livestock

Over 30,000 livestock died and vast expanses of crops were destroyed during this month’s violent blizzards which are expected to result in the largest compensation claims ever, according to Agriculture Ministry estimates. So far, officials from the ministry’s Greek Farming Insurance Fund (ELGA) have received more than 2,500 claims from animal farmers. They involve the death of some 30,000 goats and sheep, 2,000 pigs and 800 cattle. Apiarists were particularly badly affected, with around 30,000 hives of bees wiped out. The damage was worst in Attica, Evia and Boeotia, three regions where a state of emergency was declared after having been worst afflicted by heavy snowfall on January 5 and 6. Meanwhile, the deadline for damage claims regarding destroyed crops expires today. Vegetable and flower-growing farms were badly hit, as well as olive trees and, above all, orange and lemon trees – where between 30 and 40 percent of the total crop was lost. Fruit and vegetable prices, already high before the Christmas holidays, have soared over the past two weeks, threatening to send January’s inflation rate at least half a percentage point up from December’s 3 percent. ELGA expects to pay some 54 million euros (18.4 billion drachmas) to settle insurance claims for this month’s destruction, which took place during the coldest December in 40 years, with the second highest rate of snowfall after December 1991. Over the past five years, ELGA has paid, on average, 39.5 billion drachmas (115.96 million euros) in annual compensation for destroyed crops and 1.2 billion drachmas (3.52 million euros) for livestock losses. Papandreou’s paper noted also that domestic terrorism created negative publicity for Greece and that the November 17 terrorist organization had to be caught. The document stressed that the Greek plan for Balkan reconstruction would be promoted quickly. Papandreou called on government ministries to cooperate in planning a communications campaign to promote Greece’s positions in the international news media.