NEWS

In Brief

LOCAL ELECTIONS

Government could change how mayors are voted in by 2006 Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said yesterday that the government may reform the electoral law in time for next year’s local elections, which are to be held in October. The government has proposed that mayors and local officials should be elected during the first round of polling as long as they garner more than 42 percent of the vote. Currently, candidates need a majority of more than 50 percent to be elected, which often means that a second round of voting is needed. ELECTRICITY SURGE Power grid survives huge demand Greeks used a record amount of electricity yesterday as temperatures hovered around 40 Celsius (104F) with demand reaching 9,510 megawatts just before 1.30 p.m., beating the previous record of 9,300 megawatts. The Public Power Company (PPC) imported electricity from Italy, Bulgaria and Albania in an attempt to meet customer needs, officials said. Indicative of the increased demand is that late on Monday the country was drawing 8,600 megawatts of electricity, which is the same amount used at peak times last August during the Olympic Games. Property prices Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis said yesterday that prices officially set by the government for properties (also known as objective values) would soon be re-evaluated. Experts say that the re-evaluation, which will be the first since 2001, could push the objective prices of homes up by as much as 50 percent. Alogoskoufis also unveiled yesterday a draft law that could see VAT added to the sale price of newly constructed properties from January next year. Rhodes drowning A 13-year-old Italian girl drowned yesterday in Kallithea on the island of Rhodes while playing in the sea, authorities said. An Italian boy of the same age who was with her was pulled out of the water and rushed to a hospital in Athens, where he was being treated last night in critical condition. Authorities said that it was not clear how the youngsters had got into trouble. Deadly ride A joyride for two teenage boys yesterday in Kozani, northern Greece, resulted in one fatality when the car they were traveling in crashed, killing the 16-year-old passenger, authorities said. The 14-year-old driver, who took the car from a relative without permission, suffered minor injuries. Unhealthy practice Athens police said yesterday that they had arrested one man and were searching for another two in connection with the sale of forged national health service booklets to immigrant workers. The unnamed 37-year-old was arrested on Sunday after being caught red-handed selling a booklet to a cafeteria owner in Kaisariani for 100 euros, officers said. After searching his house, police seized 47 booklets and various other documents. Officers subsequently arrested nine immigrants who had bought fake booklets from the suspects. Road closures Sections of Sekeri and Solonos streets in central Athens will be closed off to traffic from tomorrow so that natural gas mains can be installed, the Attica gas company said yesterday. The Athens Urban Transport Organization (OASA) will divert several of its bus routes as a result. The closures are due to be in effect until August 12. Caretta caretta A loggerhead sea turtle, weighing some 100 kilos, was found dead on a beach in Thessaloniki near the city’s landmark White Tower, the coast guard said yesterday. Officers said the turtle, from the endangered Caretta caretta species, seemed to have died from natural causes.