NEWS

In Brief

Fire probe

Grammatiko landowner faces magistrate on arson charges A 59-year-old landowner in Grammatiko, northeastern Attica, yesterday appeared before a magistrate who is investigating the outbreak of last month’s catastrophic forest fires. Arson charges were brought against the suspect on the basis of evidence apparently showing that the blaze started on his plot. The 59-year-old yesterday denied any involvement in the fire, which he claimed broke out on a different plot of land, and reportedly referred the magistrate to 20 of his fellow villagers who, he said, could vouch for him. Migrants rescued Burst dinghy leaves 17 at sea A group of 17 illegal immigrants were recovering in hospital on Samos yesterday after being rescued from an inflatable dinghy that had foundered a few kilometers off the island’s coast. The migrants, all men whose ethnic origin was unclear, were collected by a coast guard vessel. They told the officials that they had sought to reach the island from neighboring Turkey. On the small island of Agathonisi, coast guard officials detained a boatload of 25 would-be migrants who were transfered to the larger nearby island of Patmos. Turkish violations Two Turkish fighter jets flew over the Aegean island of Fournoi at an altitude of 20,000 feet yesterday afternoon, defense officials said, reporting the latest in a string of violations of Greek national air space by Turkish aircraft. Earlier, a formation of eight Turkish F-16s had violated Greek air space north of Chios and south of Samos. Government officials have stressed that as a fellow NATO member and a European Union candidate state, Turkey must stop these transgressions. Evros blaze A fire that broke out on forestland near the villages of Aetohori and Melia in Evros, northern Greece, on Sunday afternoon was brought under control yesterday morning but had burned some 2,000 hectares of forestland and other areas of vegetation, according to local authorities. There was no damage to homes, though residents were evacuated from two villages on Sunday night as a precaution.Around 200 firefighters were aided by four water-dropping aircraft and three helicopters in battling the blaze which had been fueled by winds reaching up to 7 on the Beaufort scale. Armed Forces personnel, prefectural employees and volunteers joined the efforts. Mastodon record Local authority officials, scientists and academics yesterday attended a special ceremony in Grevena, northern Greece, marking the addition to the Guinness Book of Records of the world’s largest mastodon tusk, excavated in the Grevena region. The tusk is 5.02 meters in length, dates back 3 million years and belongs to the extinct mastodon species Mammut borsoni. The previous record for the world’s largest tusk was also held by one found in the Grevena region in 1997, with a length of 4.39 meters. Eurobasket win Greece’s national basketball team opened its challenge for the European Championship in Poland with a convincing 86-54 win over the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in Poland yesterday. Tonight Greece faces Croatia in its second group game.