Patriarch Death: Greek Air Force Chief Sacked
- Patriarch death: Air chief sacked
ATHENS, Greece -- Greece's defense minister has sacked the country's
air force chief after a military helicopter crash killed a leader of
the Greek Orthodox church.
Petros, Patriarch of Alexandria and the leader of Africa's Orthodox
Christians, died with 16 others when their Chinook plunged into the
sea 30 kilometers (20 miles) off the monastic state of Mount Athos in
north Greece on Saturday.
Top military officials admitted on Sunday that a breakdown in
communications led to an hours-long delay in launching a search and
"Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos asked the chief of the
Hellenic Air Force General Staff to hand in his resignation,"
Greece's Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said in a news conference,
according to Reuters.
"The defense minister also handed in his resignation to me for
reasons of honour, but it was not accepted."
Greek newspapers on Sunday focused on the accident on their front
pages, noting many unanswered questions surrounding it.
Ethnos said there were 'two tragic questions about the fatal flight:
what brought down the safest ever chopper and why was the rescue
operation launched two hours after the helicopter went off the
Patriarch Petros of Alexandria, the head of the 300,000 Christian
Orthodox congregation in Africa, was on the flight with 11 other
church officials and five crew members, Lt. Gen. Nikos Douvas said.
"We are devastated from this tragic accident where the Patriarch of
Alexandria, venerable clerics, his staff and the crew lost their
lives," Church of Greece leader Archbishop Christodoulos told
Patriarch Petros, 55, was born in Cyprus. His African congregation is
one of the world's oldest, dating back to the time of St. Mark.
Church of Greece spokesman Epifanios Economou said 55-year-old Petros
was a respected church leader who breathed new life into the
Patriarchate and the entire Orthodox Church in Africa since being
elected as the 115th Patriarch of Alexandria in 1997.
Journalist Anthee Carassava contributed to this report.
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