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February 1, 2009

Cyprus detains weapon-laden ship

Cyprus detains weapon-laden ship – Wikinews, the free news source

Cyprus detains weapon-laden ship

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

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On Friday, authorities in Cyprus said that they had detained a ship carrying the nation’s flag. The ship, which had initially docked at Port Said in Egypt, went to the Cypriot port of Limassol after Egyptian authorities ordered it to leave.

In Limassol, the container ship, the Monchegorsk, was anchored and boarded by Cypriot authorities. It still remains anchored there as of Sunday. The Famagusta Gazette cited well-informed sources as saying the ship contains specialized components for the manufacture of rockets.

According to reports, the ship was initially stopped in the Red Sea by the United States Navy, but it lacked the authority to board the ship or prevent it from continuing its route.

Cyprus state radio reported the vessel was Russian-owned traveling from Iran to Syria with weapons destined for Hamas.

Haaretz reported that Israel believes the weapons were bound for Hezbollah or for Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip.

On Friday, the President of Cyprus said the ship was in violation of United Nations resolutions. However, he did not go into detail.

“We are investigating what it is carrying and for this reason we have to handle things very responsibly and with a great deal of seriousness, without a lot of media noise,” President Dimitris Christofias said.

“It is a problem for us that we are forced to accept a ship under the Cypriot flag which is carrying whatever [it] is carrying, which is contrary or in conflict with Security Council resolutions,” Christofias added.

On Sunday, Cyprus foreign minister Markos Kyprianou said that the government was still investigating whether the ship was in violation of United Nations resolutions.

“Our aim is to resolve the matter in the best possible way without harming the interests of the Republic of Cyprus … The less that is said the better,” said Marios Garoyian, president of the House of Representatives of Cyprus.



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February 17, 2008

Greek-Cypriots vote for President

Greek-Cypriots vote for President – Wikinews, the free news source

Greek-Cypriots vote for President

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

File:Güney Kıbrıs Rum Kesimi haritası.png

Map of divided Cyprus. With green colour, the Republic of Cyprus.
(Image missing from commons: image; log)

Polls have already closed on the Republic of Cyprus in a quite important closely fought presidential election. Official results are expected in a few hours, and two exit polls suggest the three leading candidates, current President Tassos Papadopoulos, Dimitris Christofias, Ioannis Kasoulides are neck-and-neck. An exit poll on state television (RIK) gave each candidate around a third of the vote, with left-wing’s AKEL party leader Dimitris Christofias, marginally ahead. However, another exit poll for the TV channel Mega suggested that president Papadopoulos is ahead of the other two candidates.

Mr.Papadopoulos, a lawyer and convervative politician, became President of the Greek-controlled Republic of Cyprus in 2003. He had expressed his strong opposition to the 2004 UN plan for re-unification of the island and urged Greek Cypriots to vote against the plan in a referendum which took place on March 2004. Cypriot voters are calculated to around 570,000 across the south of the island, most of them voting in four major cities, Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaca and Paphos.

Cyprus is a divided island since 1974, after the Turkish military invasion in the north. Since then, the island remains divided in two parts, the Greek south Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish north (Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus). The Greek-controlled Republic of Cyprus is a member of the European Union since 2004 and a member of the euro zone since January 1, 2008.



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June 4, 2007

Greek actor Sotiris Moustakas dies at 67

Greek actor Sotiris Moustakas dies at 67

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Monday, June 4, 2007

The Cyprus-born, Greek actor Sotiris Moustakas died suddenly today in Athens, Greece. During rehearsals Moustakas felt unwell and was transferred to a private hospital in Athens. He was taken to the intensive care unit, but he passed away, early in the morning. He was 67 years old.

Sotiris Moustakas was born in Limassol, Cyprus in 1940. In the 1960s Moustakas began working in Greece, performing in movies, plays and television shows.

Moustakas became famous after his small role as the village idiot, Mimithos, in the Hollywood movie Zorba the Greek in 1964. He graduated from the National Theatre School and he also played many parts in Aristophanes’ plays in theatres around Greece. Sotiris Moustakas was about to tour Greece during summer, playing in an Aristophanes’ comedy along with actor Thimios Karakatsanis.

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August 14, 2005

Cypriot plane with 121 on board crashes in Greece

Cypriot plane with 121 on board crashes in Greece

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

File photo of the crashed Helios Airways B 737 © airliners.gr/Elliot Kefalas

A Helios airliner (Boeing 737, flight HCY 522) with 115 passengers and 6 crew onboard has crashed into a mountain at 09:04 UTC (12:04 p.m. EEST) near Grammatiko, 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Athens, while approaching the capital’s airport. All on board perished. The plane was travelling from Larnaca, in the southeast of Cyprus (Greek:Kypros, Κύπρος) and scheduled to arrive in Prague after a stop in Athens.

In-flight events

Immediately after take-off, the pilots reported a problem with the air conditioning system of the aircraft and requested to stay at a low altitude. A few minutes later, the pilots alerted the station that the problem had been fixed and requested permission to ascend. This information however has been denied by the Director of Helios Airways. As the plane approached Athens, all communication abruptly ceased, and the plane never issued a mayday distress signal. Two Greek F-16 military aircraft were assigned to observe the plane. The pilots of the F-16s noted that one airliner pilot appeared to be unconscious and the other was not in the cockpit.

CBC reported the following:

On Wednesday [August 17, 2005], state-run and private media, quoting anonymous defense ministry officials, said the two fighter pilots saw someone in the cockpit take control of the plane, which was flying in a gradually descending holding pattern apparently on autopilot. That person, probably a man who experts say must have had flight training, then banked the plane away from Athens, lowering it to 2,000 feet and then climbing back up to 7,000 feet before the plane apparently ran out of fuel and crashed.

The F-16s accompanied the airliner until it crashed.

Possible malfunctions and causes

The Greek F-16 pilots saw at least one of the aircraft’s pilots may have become unconscious before the crash, causing control of the plane to be lost. The emergency oxygen masks were also reported to have dropped.

There had been speculation that an electrical fire or some other cause could have flooded the cabin with carbon monoxide or another gas that would render the passengers unconscious. However, the chief coroner of Athens, Greece, said that tests showed none of the passengers or crew had carbon monoxide in their blood. It was also speculated that the air-supply system of the aircraft may have failed, causing a loss of air pressure within the cockpit. This malfunction can cause a steep drop in air temperature. On December 16, 2004 the same aircraft made an emergency landing after failure of the ventilation system at 35,000 feet and 3 passengers were hospitalized. However, an airline spokesman insisted that the plane was airworthy when it took off.

Tests showed that at least 26 people on the flight were still alive when it crashed.

After a cabin decompression occurred onboard a Learjet carrying golf pro Payne Stewart in 1999, all the travelers lost consciousness and the plane eventually crashed with no survivors.

Passengers

Helios Airlines was unable to supply a complete passenger list, having only first initials and surnames available for investigators.

The official passenger list released by Cyprus Police, as reported by CNA, indicates that there were 22 young persons onboard aged 4-16. Most of the passengers were Cypriot, a small number were Greek and one of the pilots was German. There were 4 Armenian passengers who lived in Cyprus.

The complete list, in Greek, has been published by the Cyprus News Agency.

Post-crash events

After the crash, a fire started around the airliner. It was extinguished by firefighters after 2 hours. The fire burned most of the bodies that are now being collected by special firefighter units and transferred to the city of Shisto, near Athens. Meanwhile, the two F-16 pilots were transferred to Ministry of Defense to give their report.

The flight data recorder has been recovered. The cockpit voice recorder was found the following morning in bad condition. The two devices will be sent to Paris for examination.

Nektarios-Sotirios Voutas [1][2] reported that a passenger (his cousin) sent a text message that read: “The pilot has turned blue [in the face]. [F]arewell we’re freezing”. He was arrested the following day as it appeared to be a hoax [3].

Reactions from Helios Airways

Helios has informed the relatives of the victims; however, the company has been met with criticism for failing to release the passenger list quickly.

Helios Airways released a statement on their website today, stating, “Our thoughts are with the families of those on board at this difficult time.”

An emergency telephone number in Nicosia, Cyprus can be contacted at +357/70003737, 22 – 446146.

Official reactions

The Cypriot government has declared three days of national mourning and ordered flags to be lowered on half-mast.

Upon allegations brought by the Communications and Works Minister and the chief of police, warrants were issued by the attorney general to search Helios Airways offices [4]

Timeline

  • 09:00 (06:00 UTC) Scheduled departure time.
  • 09:07 (06:07 UTC) Airplane takes off from Larnaka airport.
  • 10:30 (07:30 UTC) Flight fails to establish contact with the Eleftherios Venizelos Airport
  • 10:37 (07:37 UTC) Last contact with Larnaka airport reporting problem.
  • 10:45 (07:45 UTC) Scheduled arrival time in Athens.
  • 10:55 (07:55 UTC) The Hellenic Armed Forces Joint Chief of Staff, Admiral Panagiotis Chinofotis orders military planes to establish visual contact with the aircraft.
  • 11:05 (08:05 UTC) Two F-16 fighter planes take off from Néa Anghialos Air Base, Greece.
  • 11:18 (08:18 UTC) Fighter pilots note co-pilot slumped over the aircraft’s instrument panel.
  • 12:04 (09:04 UTC) Aircraft crashes near Grammatiko.
  • 13:10 (11:10 UTC) Scheduled arrival time in Prague.

Cyprus and Greece are UTC+3, Czech Republic is UTC+2.

About Helios Airways

Helios Airways was founded in 1999 as Cyprus’ first private airline. It is now a subsidiary of Libra Holidays Group of Limassol, Cyprus and is registered in Cyprus. Helios’ remaining fleet consists of 2 Boeing 737-800 jets and an Airbus A319. Helios offers flights between Cyprus and London, Athens, Sofia, Warsaw, Dublin and Strasbourg.

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