NEWS

In Brief

FIRE FALLOUT

Two held over blazes on Rhodes and Varibobi Firefighters yesterday were still fighting to contain a large fire on Rhodes believed to have ravaged at least 2,000 hectares of forestland. The fire on the island started near the central village of Laerma on Monday and spread southward over the last few days. Local authorities said the flames came within a few hundred meters of the village limits. A 61-year-old man was charged with starting the fire through negligence. Police in Attica yesterday brought similar charges against an 81-year-old man believed to have sparked a huge fire that broke out on Wednesday in Varibobi, north of Attica, and spread eastward to Kryoneri. KOUKODIMOS RETURNS ND has 152 of 300 MPs again Costas Koukodimos was brought back into the ranks of New Democracy’s parliamentary group yesterday as the ruling conservatives’ majority in the House rose once again to two. Koukodimos had been serving as an independent MP since January 31 when he was implicated in an offshoot of the case involving the alleged blackmail of Culture Ministry general secretary Christos Zachopoulos. The investigation into Koukodimos was shelved this week, clearing the way for his return, which was approved last Wednesday by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Zorbas riposte The outgoing head of the committee formed to combat money laundering, Giorgos Zorbas, yesterday hit out at public claims by Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis that he earned 11,000 euros a month. Zorbas challenged Alogoskoufis to make public his after-tax earnings and to identify how much other committee heads are earning. The minister made the claims during a parliamentary committee hearing yesterday. Zorbas is set to be replaced as a new panel to fight money laundering will be formed. Bad water Dozens of children living in a village near Marathon, northern Attica, have been struck by gastroenteritis as locals have problematic access to fresh water, Skai radio and television has learned. Local families have been drinking from water tanks as municipal authorities have failed to connect local homes to the water supply network, sources told Skai. Bank robbery An unidentified robber, aged around 30, broke into a branch of ATEbank in central Kalamata, in the Peloponnese, early yesterday, netting 30,000 euros after threatening cashiers with a gun. The lone robber fled the scene on a motorcycle driven by an accomplice who had been waiting for him to emerge with the cash. No one was injured in the raid. Patras appeal Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos yesterday accepted an appeal by municipal authorities at the port of Patras to discuss the aggravated problem with illegal immigrants camping at a makeshift settlement near the departure point for ferries heading for Italy. Municipal authorities described the situation at the port as a «proper humanitarian disaster,» noting that increasing numbers of migrants were fueling the operation of human-trafficking rings in the area.