Search launched for pilot after fighter jet vanishes during nighttime exercise Rescue teams were last night searching for the pilot of a single-seat F-16 air force jet that appeared to have crashed in northern Greece. The plane disappeared from radar screens at 7.41 p.m. and military aircraft and vessels were scrambled to look for the pilot and his plane in the sea some 20 kilometers south of Mount Athos. The pilot was taking part in a routine nighttime exercise at the time of the accident. NEW CHIEF Kontocostas named as head of fire service after Kois’s resignation The Government Council on Foreign Policy and Defense (KYSEA) yesterday decided to appoint as the country’s new fire service chief Athanassios Kontocostas, who has been the service’s regional governor for northern Greece to date. Kontocostas replaces outgoing fire chief Andreas Kois who resigned yesterday. Kois cited personal and family reasons for the resignation which many believed had been caused by last summer’s deadly forest fires. TRAFFIC CAMERAS Bill confirms wider use of CCTV The Justice Ministry submitted to Parliament yesterday a draft law enabling police to use traffic cameras to film violent street protests for the purposes of gathering evidence on «illegal acts.» Police will be able to film street clashes under the supervision of a prosecutor and only if it will be used for evidence in court cases. The bill also allows the publication of names of people who have been convicted of sex crimes, drug trafficking and organized crime on the grounds that it will help protect the broader community. Yuletide joy Christmas festivities in Athens, including open-air concerts and other cultural events, are to begin on December 13 and continue until January 6, City Hall officials said yesterday. Central Syntagma Square will be the focus of most activities while the National Garden will be transformed into a «magical village» with guides dressed as elves showing visitors around, officials said. Activities are also planned for several other squares including Omonia, Karaiskaki and at the Panathenaic Stadium. Suicide averted The planned suicide of a 20-year-old has been averted, police in Athens said yesterday, after officers found evidence in an Internet chat room of the unnamed man planning to kill himself. Officers from the electronic crimes squad found a message on the Internet from someone claiming he wanted to kill himself because he was suffering from psychological problems. The police traced his identity and informed his parents. The services of a psychologist have also been made available to the family. Parnitha snow Mount Parnitha, northwest of Athens, experienced its first snowfall of the winter yesterday as snow flurries hit other parts of the country. Access to some roads in the prefectures of Pella and Macedonia in northern Greece was limited as temperatures remained below zero in many areas. Divine rain Heavy rain fell for a second day in Cyprus yesterday, just days after the island’s archbishop, Chrysostomos, instructed clergy to pray for rain. Water reserves have been running low on Cyprus after a lack of rain throughout the year. Yesterday’s downpour caused some disruptions and flooding in Nicosia. Poros arrests Authorities yesterday arrested three men, aged 51, 60 and 67, on the island of Poros, near Athens, for allegedly trying to sell cannabis to undercover police officers. Police said yesterday they found in their posession just under half a kilo of cannabis. Authorities have launched an investigation to determine their possible involvement in other drug offenses. Illegal immigrants The coast guard detained 21 illegal immigrants, including four children and an infant, in the area of Vathi on the eastern Aegean island of Samos, the Merchant Marine Ministry said yesterday. The immigrants told authorities they were from Somalia and had earlier reached the island in an inflatable boat which they later destroyed. Separately, a 41-year-old foreign national was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment after being found guilty of human-trafficking charges.