Greece offers to send experts to help with search for survivors in Sichuan Greece yesterday offered to send experts to China to help look for survivors of the 7.8-Richter earthquake that struck close to densely populated areas in the Chinese province of Sichuan. Speaking at the inauguration of the «Beijing-Athens» modern art exhibition in Technopolis, Gazi, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis offered her condolences to China and said that Greece was willing to send emergency personnel to the scene of the quake, where more than 8,700 people had been confirmed dead by last night. ACADEMIC DEADLINE Minister threatens to cut funds for universities over four-year plans Universities will have their funding cut if they do not submit their four-year operational plan by the end of this month, Education Minister Evripidis Stylianidis said yesterday. The requirement for universities to draw up the plans, covering both academic and financial matters, is part of the government’s drive to ensure that the institutions are run in a more professional manner. Stylianidis said the only concession he would make is to extend the deadline by a week. Meanwhile, university lecturers said they would hold strikes on May 20, 21, 28, 29 and 30 to protest Stylianidis’s backing for private universities. OTE DEAL Green light expected on Thursday An interministerial committee is expected to meet on Thursday to rubber-stamp the government’s deal to sell 3 percent of its holding in OTE telecom to the German company Deutsche Telekom, sources said yesterday. Government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos indicated yesterday that New Democracy will demand that all its MPs vote in favor of the agreement when it comes before Parliament, even though some have expressed reservations. Flight disruptions Several Olympic Airlines domestic flights were canceled or delayed yesterday as pilots of propeller-driven aircraft serving domestic routes entered a third week of strike action. Passengers intending to travel with OA are advised to call 210.966.6666 before turning up at the airport. Archaeological sites Greece’s archaeological sites will be closed on Sunday due to a 24-strike by guards who are calling for increased staff levels. Separately, municipal employees appointed as school guards will stage a four-hour work stoppage today, starting at 11 a.m., demanding increased pay and pension benefits, authorities said. The guards will then demonstrate outside the Employment Ministry in central Athens at midday. Oil checks More shipments of imported sunflower oil are being examined for possible contamination, Deputy Development Minister Giorgos Vlachos said yesterday. More than 3 tons have been removed from the market because traces of potentially harmful mineral oil have been found in sunflower oil. However, Vlachos said that samples are being taken from other batches of imported oil as well. He also called on companies that import and sell the oil to conduct precautionary checks of their own. Doping probe Two more people linked to the doping scandal that rocked the Greek weightlifting team last month yesterday submitted written depositions to the prosecutor investigating the case. An Athens pharmacist who allegedly prepared the supplements that the 11 weightlifters took, told prosecutor Andreas Karaflos that he put the powder supplement into capsules on behalf of the national team but was completely unaware that the powder contained any banned substance. The Larissa-based supplement dealer who supplied the powder informed Karaflos that he believed the substance to be amino acids, which are legal for athletes to take, imported from China. Coal protests Residents of two villages near Kozani, northern Greece, yesterday blocked the entrance to the Aghios Dimitrios coal-fired power station to protest the environmental and health risks. Residents of Athens, Thessaloniki, Aliveri on Evia, Kavala, Corinth, Astakos in western Greece and Aspra Spitia near Delphi are planning rallies this week to protest plans to build coal-fired power plants in their area.