NEWS

In Brief

ATTICA DELUGE

Heavy rainfall floods homes, brings transport chaos Heavy rainfall across Attica yesterday afternoon flooded dozens of homes and caused transport chaos for the third time in as many months, prompting Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis to sack Civil Defense Agency Chief Yiannis Papanikolaou, who is to be replaced by retired police chief Yiannis Georgakopoulos. The Kifissos River broke through thousands of sandbags which had bolstered it following the damage wreaked by previous rains. The districts of Moschato, Rendi and Neo Faliron were the hardest hit, once again, with homes and stores flooded after rainfall rose to 80 centimeters. The fire service was besieged by calls, many from people trapped in elevators following power cuts. Parts of Pireos Avenue and other roads near the Kifissos River were flooded. CYPRUS Leaders prepare to meet Annan, Ecevit asks EU to stop accession talks Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides and Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash discussed the issue of citizenship yesterday in their final encounter before a meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in Paris on Friday. Meanwhile Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit asked the European Union to cut its «useless» ties with the island, a candidate for EU accession, in order to facilitate the search for a solution to the Cyprus problem. The two leaders must be ready to consider other options if ongoing UN-mediated talks break down, US Envoy Thomas Weston said yesterday after meeting Alternate Foreign Affairs Minister Anastasios Yiannitsis in Athens. ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS Two drown, eight missing Rescue crews in the southwestern Peloponnese yesterday recovered the bodies of two drowned migrants and were searching for another eight believed missing after a fishing boat sank off the coast of Kyparissia. The search began after a group of 36 migrants arrested near the port reported the eight missing. The migrants told police they were being taken to shore, from a ship which had left Turkey five days earlier, aboard two boats when one of the vessels sank. Also yesterday, Thessaloniki police detained 19 would-be migrants from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and their suspected smuggler, FYROM national Seferdan Sakirovksi, 37, into whose truck they had been crammed. Child molestation A 29-year-old car mechanic believed to have repeatedly posed as a plainclothes policeman to conduct body searches on several girls between the ages of 11 and 15 since last October, faced an Athens prosecutor yesterday charged with the indecent assault of minors. Dimitris Xayoraris, arrested on Monday after the parents of eight of his alleged victims pressed charges, reportedly groped his victims in remote locations where he would take them on the pretext of conducting a search for stolen jewelry. Seamen appeased Protesting seamen yesterday claimed to be satisfied by government pledges to fulfill their demands for higher pensions, but threatened further strike action if their promises are not met without delay. Amendments to existing legislation, including the raising of pensions to 70 percent of active salaries, are due to be tabled in Parliament over the next few days, as agreed in Monday’s talks between Merchant Marine Minister Giorgos Anomeritis and labor union chiefs. Strike action will resume if those amendments are not tabled by next Friday, unionists of the Panhellenic Seamens’ Federation warned yesterday. Rebel mayor? Former New Democracy MP Artemis Anapliotis, who has used the ND ticket for his election as president of the municipal council for the past 25 years, yesterday declared he was joining the race for mayor of Athens at the head of an «independent municipal outfit» named In Athens. Farmers protest Protesting cotton farmers from Tyrnavos yesterday blocked the Athens-Thessaloniki highway between the towns of Larissa and Elassona by parking their tractors across a bridge on that stretch of the highway. The farmers want state compensation – for crops and animals lost during this year’s freak weather spells – to be paid immediately as they say they cannot work their land without the funds. Protesters are gearing up for a protest rally outside the Thessaloniki Trade Fair on Friday.