NEWS

In Brief

FIRE STRIKES

Blaze sweeps through area west of Athens, no homes burnt A local resident looks on as firefighters tackle a blaze in Agioi Theodoroi, west of Athens, that destroyed parts of a pine forest and threatened homes yesterday. Fire authorities said that three neighborhoods were evacuated for precautionary reasons but no houses were damaged and no injuries reported. The fire swept through the gardens of some houses but then moved away from the homes, leaving them unscathed. Eight water-dropping planes, six helicopters and 60 fire trucks took part in the operation which managed to control the blaze later in the day. Despite the strong winds, the damage to the forest area was limited, authorities said. PERSONAL FINANCES Less than half of households in debt The average amount of money households owe on credit cards reaches 1,700 euros; however, data show that Greeks are not taking to credit as fast as was first thought, according to a Bank of Greece report. Credit cards are the most common form of debt, followed by mortgages. Less than half (48.4 percent) of the country’s households have needed to use some form of borrowing, despite banks reporting healthy loan growth rates, added the report which was based on sample data taken from 6,007 households. Ferry investigation The Piraeus coast guard ordered an investigation yesterday into why the ferry Rodanthi was unable to leave port on Friday and left hundreds of holidaymakers stranded. The ship was meant to sail a route that includes the islands of Paros, Naxos and Samos but reported engine failure along with another ferry owned by GA Ferries, the Romilda, meaning that some 2,500 passengers were unable to travel on Friday – traditionally the busiest day of the summer. The coast guard also asked for the help of the local prosecutor in the case. The vessel was deemed seaworthy yesterday afternoon. Makarios remembrance Cypriot political and religious leaders yesterday marked 28 years since the death of the country’s late president, Archbishop Makarios, by holding a ceremony at the Kykkos Monastery in the Troodos mountain range. Makarios served as an apprentice at the monastery and is buried 3 kilometers away at Throni. He died of a heart attack on August 3, 1977, after being overthrown three years earlier in a coup backed by the military dictatorship in Athens. Turkish tourism The number of Greek tourists visiting neighboring Turkey has gone up by 40 percent this year, according to Tourism Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos and his Turkish counterpart Atilla Koc, who met in Istanbul on Saturday. In a statement, the two ministers said that Greeks and Turks were «not just friends, not just partners in trade, but have a common history and a common future.» Avramopoulos said that tourism between the two countries would allow Greeks and Turks to get to know each other better. Harbor collision Two ships collided in the harbor on the island of Andros on Saturday night, the Merchant Marine Ministry said, but nobody was injured. The ferry Aqua Jewel, which had 622 passengers on board, was leaving Andros to head for the island of Tinos when it hit the Super Georgia cargo ship side on. The anchors of the two vessels also became entangled. Little damage was reported and the Aqua Jewel continued its journey to Tinos. Sea search Two coast guard patrol boats and a helicopter began searching on Saturday for an 80-year-old woman who was feared drowned in the sea near the holiday resort of Kinetta but had not found her by yesterday afternoon, the Merchant Marine Ministry said. Driver caught A 36-year-old truckdriver was arrested in the port of Patras on Saturday after coast guard officers discovered five illegal immigrants hidden in his trailer, the Merchant Marine Ministry said. The truck was about to board a ferry that was to sail abroad. The ministry did not give further details. Glyfada blaze With the help of water-dropping planes and helicopters, some 30 firefighters contained a fire that broke out in a forest area close to Glyfada, southeastern Athens, on Saturday. The two-hour operation also involved the use of 10 trucks and 40 rescue workers to fight the blaze that did not threaten local homes. Fire controlled A fire in Preveza, northern Greece, was under control late on Saturday after it swept through 500 hectares, destroying some 10,000 olive trees, authorities said. Firefighters used water-dropping planes and helicopters to put out the blaze which stretched up to 10 kilometers, fanned by the strong winds in the region. No homes were destroyed. Olympic festivities Nearly one year after the start of the Athens Olympic Games, Alternate Culture Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia will hold the opening festive activities tomorrow of a series of functions aimed at promoting the city’s Olympic venues and sports. The eight-day program includes educational events, theatrical shows and other artistic presentations.