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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 10-02-20
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Flooding in Evros SubsidesFriday, 19 February 2010 15:10
The widespread flooding that wreaked havoc in the prefecture of Evros, in the northernmost tip of Greece, has started to subside. Dozens of hectares of arable land and several parts of both the national and regional road network have seriously damage, with the cost expected to exceed 10 million euros.
Crews have been beefing up the levees, since the water level of the rivers of Evros, Ardas and Erythropotamos is subsiding. However, the water level has not yet fallen under the alert level.
Evros Prefecture Nikolaos Zambounides briefed Deputy Civil Protection Minister Spyros Vougias on the situation in the prefecture.
Zambounides said that more than 250,000 square metres have flooded, while the damage caused could reach 50 million euros. He also stressed that only a political decision made by Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey could solve the problem. News item: 33519
 Tragedy in Morocco MosqueSaturday, 20 February 2010 13:00
At least 36 people were killed and more than 70 injured in Morocco when a minaret collapsed at a mosque in the historical town of Meknes. Authorities fear many more people burried under the rubble. Over 300 worshippers had gathered inside the Khnata bent Bekkar mosque for Friday afternoon prayers when the 400 year old minaret and part of the ceiling collapsed.
Friday's prayer turned into tragedy. Tens of injured had been taken to hospitals in Meknes and the nearby city of Fez. Rescue crews and residents of the region continue to look for people in the rubble as there is fear that more than 80 people are buried under the rubble. Neglected buildings in the old quarters of Morocco's cities collapse fairly often, the fall of a minaret is rare. Morocco Interior Minister blamed the accident on heavy rains which lashed the region for several days. Meknes, one of the four Morocco's imperial cities, is located 120km from capital Rabat. Meknes is on Unesco's world heritage list. King Mohammed VI has ordered that the 400-year-old mosque be rebuilt as soon as possible and that its original architecture be preserved.
News item: 33559
 Dutch Coalition Government CollapsesSaturday, 20 February 2010 12:04
The Dutch coalition government collapsed Saturday after sixteen hours of debate over whether to extend the country's military mission in Afghanistan. The Netherlands was set to withdraw all its troops in August but NATO had asked the country to keep its force in Afghanistan beyond this year's deadline. In his first statement to announce dissolution of the Parliament, Dutch Christian Democrat Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende said he would visit her majesty Queen Beatrix to submit the resignations of the ministers and deputy ministers of the Labour Party. In the meantime, a Pakistani air strike killed 30 Islamist militants in Al Qaeda hide out.
"As the leader of the cabinet, I came to the conclusion that there is no common road for this coalition government to go further."
Jan Peter Balkenende
Dutch Christian Democrat Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende said the Labour party, the second largest party in his ruling coalition was quitting government over a dispute on NATO's request to extend the Netherlands' military mission in Afghan province Uruzgan. Prime Minister Balkenende's Christian Democrat CDA party, the senior coalition partner, had floated the idea of keeping a smaller force in Afghanistan beyond this year's deadline. But deputy Prime Minister Wouter Bos strongly objected to such prospect maintaining that his Labor party wants the Afghan mission to end as earlier promised and the last Dutch soldier gone from Uruzgan by the end of the year.
The Netherlands' military mission in Afghanistan, within the framework of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), began in August 2006, and has already been extended by two years. At least 21 Dutch soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan.
Christian Democrats accused Labour leader Wouter Bos of taking advantage of the issue for petty partisan benefit as opinion polls showed that his party was losing ground in view of local elections on March, 3. Deployment of Netherlands troops in the Afghan war is deeply unpopular among Dutch voters from the very beginning. Labour could regain some electoral support by its stance over Afghanistan.
Earlier this month NATO chief, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, invited Holland to assume a new training mission and stay in Afghanistan a t least till 2011. The US administration had also asked the Dutch government not to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. However, such decisions would need a clear signal of agreement.
Balkenende has been prime minister since 2002, but he has resigned four times in 8 years before the end of his term in office. The Freedom Party campaigning on mistrust of the government appears to become the second biggest party in the new government coalition. In the meantime, a Pakistani air strike killed 30 militants in Shawal, on Pakistan-Afghanistan borders, in one of the biggest offensives against Al Qaeda.
Sources: ÍÅÔ-ÁNA-ÌPA News item: 33558