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Patriarch Death: Greek Air Force Chief Sacked

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  • aggreen1
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 12, 2004
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      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
      rescue operation.

      "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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