NEWS

In Brief

SPORTS CENTER BESIDE CHURCH

Council of State said to reject appeal An appeal against the construction of an indoor sports hall next to a 10th-century Byzantine church in Athens has been rejected by the Council of State on the difference of just one vote, court sources said yesterday. The appeal against plans for the sports hall – destined to host ping-pong and gymnastics for the Olympic Games – was lodged by a group of environmentalists and residents of the Galatsi municipality which encompasses the Veikou area where the «Omorfoklissia» (Beautiful Church) stands. The group was appealing against a December 2000 decision by the Ministries of Public Works and Culture approving the construction of the sports hall – projected as a four-story structure with a surface area of 9.2 hectares – which is to stand just 150 meters from the church. The appeal was rejected as the potential construction site is not forest land. Radioactive box A box containing a radioactive isotope of iridium – stolen from a work site in Larissa, Thessaly, earlier this month – was recovered on Saturday by the National Commission for Nuclear Energy, the Development Ministry said. The commission confirmed the radiographic device – a high-energy iridium source in an armored case used to install natural gas pipelines – had not been tampered with. The device was found 500 meters from the spot where it was apparently stolen on January 19, the ministry said. The commission had warned the unidentified robbers that the device posed a major health risk. Zakynthos quake A strong undersea quake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale took place south of the Strofades islets near the Ionian island of Zakynthos just after 10 p.m. on Saturday, the Athens Geodynamic Institute said. No injuries or damage was reported. Phone bills. Local and long-distance fixed-line calls are 11 and 23 percent cheaper respectively following yesterday’s introduction of state telecom operator OTE’s new cost structure in which reductions are offset by a 21-percent hike in fixed monthly charges. Local calls now cost 8.9 drachmas (2.6 cents) a minute – down from 10.5 drachmas – and long-distance calls now cost 21.5 drachmas a minute (6.3 cents) – down from 28 drachmas. The new tariffs put an end to the dual-pricing system allowing cheap evening calls. The new fixed monthly charge is 3,400 drachmas (9.98 euros) – formerly 2,800 drachmas. Tariffs for international calls and Internet access remain unchanged.