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Athens News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-08-05

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr>

NEWS IN ENGLISH

Athens, Greece, 05/08/1998 (ANA)


MAIN HEADLINES

  • Inferno surrounds Athens
  • Prince Charles arrives in Greece for holiday
  • World Basketball Championship
  • Drachma jumps against foreign currencies for second month
  • Aspis Bank launches IPO for main market entry
  • Greek stocks again nose down in profit-taking
  • Spending on advertising in Jan-Jul rises by 10.38 pct
  • OPE regional offices to become on-line
  • Underwater oil drilling starts off Thassos
  • Weather
  • Foreign exchange

NEWS IN DETAIL

Inferno surrounds Athens

Probably for the first time in its history the Greek capital yesterday was surrounded by a veritable inferno as a result of forest fires that blazed out of control on several fronts to the west, north and east, and included industrial and military install ations in their destructive path.

Prime Minister Costas Simitis and several ministers were forced to cut short their holidays to attend an emergency Cabinet meeting in the evening. More than 300 firefighters, aided by firefighting planes and local residents, continued battling a huge f orest fire raging on Mount Penteli in northeastern Attica, that reduced thousands of stremma of pine forest and brush to ashes.

The fire, which broke out Sunday night, was fanned by strong winds that inhibited aerial access, and spread yesterday to the suburbs of Geraka and Pallini, where it threatened several homes.

Two children's hospitals and a Kurdish refugee camp on Mt. Penteli had already been evacuated on Monday, with one more hospital being evacutated yesterday. About 20 people were taken to other hospitals with respiratory problems.

A senior Fire Brigade officer told the ANA that the firefighters' effort to control a blazing front stretching from Kotroni in Stamata, northeastern Attica to Vrana community in Marathon, depended largely on the wind.

Another fire was still raging at Keratovouni in Keratea, southeastern Attica.

At about 3 pm, a new front broke out in the Varybobi area, to the left of the Athens to Thessaloniki national highway, engulfing four factories of plastics, textiles, and chemicals, and briefly spreading past the Tatoi military airfield to the west.

New blazes also broke out near the Lagonissi seaside resort town in eastern Attica, the Kalyvia municipality in Keratea, and in parts of Dionysos to the north, where it engulfed two houses.

The Lagonissi fire, fanned by strong winds threatened two communities after destroying a large expanse of bush and forest land in Kalyvia, Attica.

Local residents criticised the fire brigade, saying that the fire had been contained and could have been extinguished early in the morning, but the absence of fire-fighting aircraft and fire-engines allowed the blaze to make its way down the mountain to wards Lagonissi.

An Attica prefectural councillor claimed to have received a call from an unidentified caller threatening that more fires were on the way, while firemen said they had also received threats from people interfering with their radio frequencies.

The fire brigade said its forces were stretched to the limit, while the weather service forecast that the strong winds would not abate today. Outside the Athens area, fires were also raging on Mt. Taygetos and at Krania on Mt. Olympos for the 12th strai ght day.

Public Order Minister Giorgos Romeos, who flew over the areas of the fires, noted that the effort to extinguish the forest fires were hampered by the fact that they broke out at several different areas at the same time, while strong winds fanned the fire out of control.

He said the blazes were the result of organised arson.

Prince Charles arrives in Greece for holiday

Charles, the Prince of Wales, escorted by his two children and a 20-member party, arrived in Greece last night as a guest of the Latsis and Lemos families to cruise around the Greek islands.

World Basketball Championship

The second round of the World Basketball Championship ended in Athens last night with a match going into overtime. Spain and Lithuania were level 75- 75 at full-time, with the Spaniards finally clinching victory 86-80 in overtime. Results: Russia-Canada 81-72 Italy-Puerto Rico 68-63 Greece-Yugoslavia 56-70 Spain-Lithuania 86-80 Argentina-Brazil 86-76 US-Australia 96-78

Drachma jumps against foreign currencies for second month

The drachma rose sharply against foreign currencies in July against June, maintaining its impetus for the second straight month, analysts said yesterday.

The Ecu dropped 1.83 percent against the drachma in July.

The central bank's average Ecu/drachma fixing rate in July compared to the Ecu's central parity of 357.000 drachmas in the European Union's exchange rate mechanism showed the Ecu slumping 7.8 percent against the Greek currency.

The German mark fell 1.84 percent against the drachma in July against June; the French franc dropped 1.83 percent; and the pound sterling shed 1.83 percent against the national currency.

The drachma gained 1.55 percent on the US dollar and 1.8 percent against the Japanese yen.

Aspis Bank launches IPO for main market entry

Private Aspis Bank yesterday launched a four-day initial public offer (IPO) in order to enter the main market of the Athens Stock Exchange.

The bank is selling 1,524,000 common shares at 1,100 drachmas each, tapping the market for 1.7 billion drachmas.

The funds will be used to extend the bank's network by five branches, upgrade its information technology and contribute to share capital rises for its mutual fund management and brokerage subsidiaries.

Aspis Bank posted pre-tax profits of 237 million drachmas in 1997, up from 23 million a year earlier. Deposits in 1997 totalled 51 billion drachmas, up from 26 billion drachmas.

The bank's earnings in January-May were 180 million drachmas against a target of 400 million for the whole of 1998.

Greek stocks again nose down in profit-taking

Greek equities finished slightly down in thin trade yesterday for a second consecutive session in a correction that is helping the market to consolidate in the wake of two sharp rises.

The Athens general share index finished 0.19 percent down at 2,783.82 points.

Turnover slipped to 42.9 billion drachmas from 49.2 billion drachmas in the previous session.

Sector indices mostly finished lower. Banking crept down 0.32 percent, Leasing lost 0.61 percent, Insurance slipped 0.09 percent, Investment slumped 1.57 percent, Industrials were 0.16 percent up, Construction fell 0.52 percent, Holding dropped 0.88 per cent, and Miscellaneous gained 0.49 percent.

Bucking the trend was the parallel market index for small cap companies, which finished 2.21 percent higher.

Of 289 stocks traded, advances led declines at 136 to 134 with 19 shares remaining unchanged.

Spending on advertising in Jan-Jul rises by 10.38 pct

Total spending on advertising in domestic media totalled 205.1 billion drachmas in January-July, marking a 10.38 percent rise over the same period a year earlier, Media Services SA said yesterday.

Most of the cash was spent on television advertisements at 95.8 billion drachmas, accounting for 46.71 percent of the whole, followed by magazines, newspapers and radio.

In July, expenditure on advertising was 24.7 billion drachmas with 9.5 billion of the total spent on television, accounting for 38.4 percent.

OPE regional offices to become on-line

The regional offices of the Hellenic External Trade Organisation (OPE) are scheduled to become on-line with the Organisation's headquarters within the next few months.

OPE regional offices are operating in Komotini, Florina, Kastoria and Ioannina (northern Greece), in Heraklion (Crete) and in Magnesia and Patras (Peloponnese).

Underwater oil drilling starts off Thassos

The first underwater oil drilling operations west of the island of Thassos in northern Greece have started under the code name "South Prinos C".

This new drilling is taking place in specific anticlines, one of the four spotted last October by "WESTERN PRIDE", the special seismic activity registration vessel.

A second underwater drilling will follow in accordance with the time schedule set by the consortium comprising the Northern Aegean Petroleum Co. (NAPC) and the Greek state.

Provided the results of the drilling operations are considered satisfactory by NAPC, the consortium will proceed with two more drillings in the same underwater area, located at a distance of 2.5-3 nautical miles from the "parent" deposit of the "Prinos" field.

The entire project is projected for completion within the next two years, based on assumed NAPC contractual obligations to the Greek state.

WEATHER

Hot, sunny weather is forecast throughout the country today with light to moderate winds turning strong in parts of the Aegean. Temperatures in Athens ranging from 28C to 39C; and in Thessaloniki from 24C to 38C.

FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Tuesday's rates (buying) U.S. dollar 293.632 British pound 478.759 Japanese yen (100) 203.013 French franc 49.173 German mark 164.821 Italian lira (100) 16.706 Irish Punt 414.656 Belgian franc 7.991 Finnish mark 54.209 Dutch guilder 146.151 Danish kr. 43.247 Austrian sch. 23.421 Spanish peseta 1.941 Swedish kr. 36.734 Norwegian kr. 38.678 Swiss franc 195.736 Port. Escudo 1.610 Aus. dollar 177.955 Can. dollar 194.115 Cyprus pound 559.488

(L.G.)


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