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Athens News Agency: News in English, 05-07-28

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] Fire in Rafina blazing out of control, homes destroyed
  • [02] Better wine output seen this year
  • [03] Intralot signs contract with Egypt's Post Office

  • [01] Fire in Rafina blazing out of control, homes destroyed

    A large fire broke out Thursday morning in the northeastern Attica coastal and port town of Rafina, in the heavily wooded residential area of Skoufeika, and was blazing out of control shortly after noon, fanned by high winds in the area, causing damage and total destruction to several homes.

    The fire, which broke out at 10:30 a.m. in the area, covered with pine trees, was quickly fanned into major proportions by strong winds blowing in the area, and many residents were initially evacuated from their homes for precautionary reasons, as there as there was danger of the fire spreading to their yards due to the high winds, but later reports said that a number of homes have already been reached by the blaze, causing extensive or total damage to them.

    An initial team of 60 firefighters with 20 fire engines and another team of 100 firefighters and conscripts on foot who were battling the blaze, assisted by 4 firefighting airplanes and two water-dropping helicopters, were quickly joined by 20 more helicopters and four more planes, 40 more fire engines with another 120 firefighters, and 20 water tankers from neighbouring municipalities, while a further 20 fire engines were rushing to the area from the Peloponese and the Sterea (central Greece) region, bringing the total force to 60 fire engines with 180 firefighters, 100 firefighters and conscripts on foot, 8 planes, 6 helicopters, and 20 water tankers, with another 20 fire engines expected to arrive shortly from the Peloponese and Sterea. Local residents also turned out en force to assist the efforts.

    According to the Fire Brigade, the fire broke out with only one, large, front, but had now developed into several fronts, and had spread past the Aghia Triada area and was approaching Neo Voutza and Spata, threatening more homes in its path.

    The high winds in the area, in addition to fanning the blaze into major proportions, were also hampering the work of the water-dropping planes and helicopters, given the large waves they caused in the sea off Rafina, with the main bulk of the firefighting falling on the ground-based units, which were trying to create fire zones to halt the blaze's progression.

    Marathon Boulevard has been closed to traffic for safety reasons and also to facilitate the quick access of the fire engines.

    Public order minister George Voulgarakis rushed to the scene early in the day, while he was later joined there by prime minister Costas Karamanlis, who postponed a dinner he was to host in the evening for the MPs of his ruling New Democracy party who are sitting in on the first of three parliamentary summer recess sessions.

    [02] Better wine output seen this year

    Agricultural Development and Foods Minister Evangelos Basiakos said on Wednesday that a better harvest was expected this year in grapes cultivated for consumption and for winemaking.

    Speaking to reporters after a meeting with the KEOSOE grape growers and vintners cooperatives, Basiakos said measures taken by the government would assist in distribution.

    In addition, efforts would be made to boost grape exports, the minster added.

    Viticulture in Greece is believed to have started around the 15th century BC and spread rapidly, soon becoming one of the main economic resources of Greece at the time.

    The importance of viticulture is reflected in the many ancient Greek coins depicting grapes, while wine's special place in the Greeks' lives is confirmed by the fact that Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of wild vegetation, initially, eventually became almost exclusively associated with the blessed grape and its product.

    With its superior climate for grape growing and an abundance of brainpower and technological resources, Greek wine producing has, in the past two decades, undergone a revolution in which quality, individuality and history are the hallmarks of a new generation of Greek vintners.

    [03] Intralot signs contract with Egypt's Post Office

    Intralot on Thursday signed an agreement with Egypt's Post Office for the development of a national lottery and gaming services network in the country.

    The initial investment will total 10 million euros. Under the agreement, Intralot will hold an 85 percent stake in a joint venture to be created with Egypt's Post Office. The project is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2006.

    The agreement was signed between Intralot's chairman Socrates Kokkalis and Egypt's Post Office president Dr. Aly El Moselhy. Egypt's Technology and Telecommunications Minister Dr Tarik Mohamed Kamel Mahmoud, who attended the signing ceremony, said: "We welcome Intralot Group in Egypt and we believe that this agreement will become a partnership of mutual benefit."

    Intralot's chairman Socrates Kokkalis said: "Our presence here underlines our faith in the Egyptian market. We believe that out partnership with Egypt's Post Office will be beneficiary for both parties and that the project will be a modernisation project which will upgrade added value services in the Egyptian market."

    Intralot will install an on-line automated system, based on LOTOS platform, that will include a management software, a telecommunications network, and monitors to Post Office's branches and other sales points. Egypt's Post Office operates a network of 3,400 branches around the country and plans to expand its network to around 10,000. The organisation employs 45,000 workers and has 12 million active accounts, or more than 50 percent of the Egyptian market.

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