NEWS

In Brief

ESCALATING TENSION

Greece expresses concern over Middle East developments Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said yesterday that Greece is watching developments in the Middle East with particular concern as they could lead to an escalation of tension. «Neither military operations nor abductions can lead forward on the road to peace and the resolution of the problem,» he said. Israel and the Palestinians are in the midst of the worst crisis since the radical Islamist Hamas movement took office in March, after troops rolled over the border in a bid to free a soldier captured by militants. STRIKE POSTPONED Patients will be able to obtain medicine as usual next month Civil servants will be able to obtain medicines as they normally would next month after the Pharmaceutical Association of Attica (FSA) decided to push back its upcoming strike action to the start of August. The pharmacists are protesting delays in payment from the Civil Servants’ Fund (OPAD) which owes FSA some 30 million euros. The strike was postponed as OPAD began to pay some of the money, FSA said. TEMPERATURES RISE Athens above 38C (100F) today Temperatures are set to rise today, reaching 40C (104F) degrees in central and northern parts of the country with 38C (100F) degrees expected for Athens. Meteorologists said that weather conditions will remain hot over the next three days but will be mixed with rain and storms in the north, the Ionian Sea and the northern Aegean tomorrow afternoon. Cretan firefighting Prefectural authorities in Hania yesterday appealed to the Public Order Ministry to supply them with two water-dropping helicopters which would be stationed at the airports of Hania and Iraklion to boost the island’s firefighting capabilities. The move came after a blaze on Wednesday ravaged 25 hectares of olive trees in the area of Sfakia. «If there had been aircraft support (on Wednesday) the damage would have been significantly smaller,» the head of Hania prefecture’s civil protection unit, Lambros Vassilakis, said. The blaze in Sfakia was controlled late on Wednesday, according to authorities. Flood projects The Finance Ministry yesterday earmarked 4.5 million euros for the construction of anti-flood projects in Alexandroupolis, northeastern Greece. The area suffered severe flooding last winter from the Evros River with large amounts of water pouring in from Bulgaria and Turkey. Illicit trade Municipal officials and businessmen in Thessaloniki yesterday heralded a strict crackdown on illegal trade in the northern city that will involve closer policing of central roads, the confiscation of illicit goods and the imposition of penalties. According to the president of Thessaloniki’s Business Chamber, Michalis Zorpidis, illicit trade in the city has spiraled out of control, creating problems for legitimate retailers. Steroid bust The Special Investigation Services (SIS) arrested a Danish national on the island of Rhodes yesterday accused of smuggling anabolic steroids into the country. Police confiscated from the suspect more than 3,600 pills and injectable vials that had not been declared to authorities. The man was arrested at the port of Rhodes after having arrived from Turkey, SIS added. Road fatality A 27-year-old motorist was killed in the early hours of yesterday morning on the Egnatia Highway in Kozani after running into the back of a truck. The exact circumstances of the accident were unclear. German remanded A 60-year-old German pensioner who is accused of killing an Austrian national was remanded by police in Rhodes yesterday. The suspect told police that he stabbed the victim on Tuesday in self-defense as the Austrian man, aged 54, was drunk and attacked him. The two had been housemates along with a 51-year-old German woman for the last three years, police said.