NEWS

In Brief

ISLAND BLAZE

Strong winds fan flames on Corfu; village evacuated as precaution A fire on the western island of Corfu prompted authorities yesterday to evacuate the village of Santa for precautionary reasons. Five water-dropping planes along with two helicopters were taking part in the fight against the blaze that was being fanned by strong winds. Earlier, firefighters contained fires in Florina and Kastoria, Western Macedonia, without any reports of injuries or homes being damaged. POLICE CRACKDOWN Hundreds arrested for 3,665 offenses over two-day operation A police crackdown on petty crime in northern Greece on Thursday and Friday resulted in the arrest of 458 people for 3,665 violations, police said on Saturday. The operation involved 2,502 police officers and was held in Thessaloniki and other parts of northern Greece, such as Eastern Macedonia and the northern Aegean. «This operation is part of the anti-crime policy that has been planned by Greek Police and Public Order Ministry for 2007. These operations will continue in 2007,» police said in a statement. No information was given regarding the types of offenses that were recorded. ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS Coast guard detains 25 people The coast guard yesterday arrested 25 illegal immigrants on the eastern Aegean islands of Samos and Mytilene. On Samos, 17 illegal immigrants, including three children, were found off the cape of Praso in an inflatable boat. The immigrants, who told authorities they were from Libya, were taken for medical checks before being escorted to a local immigrant detention center. On Mytilene, authorities detained eight illegal immigrants, five men and three women, in the island’s port area. They told authorities they had crossed over from Turkey aboard inflatable boats which they later destroyed. No information was given regarding the nationalities of the immigrants. Explosive materials Off the coast of Nafplion in the Peloponnese the coast guard arrested a 45-year-old man who was transporting explosive materials in his boat, the Merchant Marine Ministry said yesterday. Following a joint operation involving different coast guard stations in the area, authorities found on the suspect’s vessel 50 kilos of nitric acid, fuses and materials use to bind explosive devices such as plasticine and tape. Authorities said they confiscated the material and have launched an investigation into the incident. Book changes Students and teachers will assess for themselves a controversial history textbook being introduced in the education system for 11-year-olds as of the start of the next school year, according to Education Ministry sources. The book, which has been deemed by critics as not giving an accurate picture of Greek history, has been overhauled but its final version has not been made public. Sources added that both students and teachers will be called on to answer 15 questions to rate the contents of the book. Budget revenues Budget revenues in July jumped by 10 percent as compared to last year, beating the 7.2 percent annual target rate, and helping to cover a shortfall from the previous months, according to Finance Ministry sources. Lower-than-expected revenues during May and June, along with a spike in expenses, created a 1-billion-euro shortfall during the two-month period. Finance Ministry officials blame the big drop on a negative base effect, as taxpayers paid all their taxes earlier last year in order to take advantage of a discount offered by the ministry. Greece’s 2007 budget aims for a deficit of 2.4 percent of gross domestic product. Hail damage A brief hailstorm in Serres, northern Greece, caused damage to crops in the Nigritas area on Saturday, authorities said. Some 500 hectares of farmland, consisting of tobacco, grapes and watermelon crops, were affected by the storm. Officials from the Hellenic Agricultural Insurance Organization (ELGA) are expected to assess the damage in the area today. Fatal accidents A 30-year-old man, a foreign national, was killed in Thessaloniki early yesterday when his motorcycle ran into a car on the Thessaloniki-Athens national highway. In a separate accident in Thessaloniki, a 54-year-old man was killed when the car he was traveling in ran into another vehicle. The driver of the second car, aged 24, suffered slight injuries, according to police. Albanian fires Greece’s air force participated in Albanian efforts to put out a fire that had broken out on Saturday in Gjirokaster, close to the Greek-Albanian border, with two Canadair CL-125 planes, officials said. Greece’s air force also participated with the use of an Erickson helicopter; however, adverse weather conditions prevented it from taking part in the operation. Lucky escape A firefighter escaped with a light injury after being struck by a rock that fell from the slopes of Mount Belles in Serres, northern Greece, yesterday, as a result of extreme temperatures caused by preceding fires on the mountain range, according to a police report. The firefighter was hospitalized with a slight leg injury. Firefighting and defense forces have been stationed in the region to patrol the area following five days of fires that ravaged the mountains.