The Middle East region was struck yesterday afternoon, at 3:11 by an earthquake of about 6,5 degrees on Reichter scale. Having its center in the Mediterranean, 40 kilometers west of Cyprus, it was felt by Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Greece.
In Beirut, the quake lasted about 20 seconds, while in Saida, it was estimated to take about 40 seconds. In Tyre, as well as in Cairo, people rushed out of buildings, and one Egyptian lady died when her house crashed in Samih village, in the Delta of the Nile, North of Cairo.
In Cyprus, 11 persons were, according to the police reports, injured in Paphos, Larnaka and Nicosia, but none entered the hospital.
Damages were limited to power shortage in Lymassol, but there were no victims. The last quake to happen in the Middle East region was in May 29th 1995, with 5,3 degrees on Reichter scale.
The cabinet held yesterday its weekly meeting, headed by the Prime Minister Al-Hariri and attended by all Ministers.
After the meeting, Mr. Michel El-Murr made a speech in which he confirmed that Abou Mizan and Nahr Ibrahim quarries were to be closed but first there must be a general planning of the environmentally unharmful sites, so that pebbles would still be provided for the construction.
He added a new grace period, ending on December 31st 1996, was given to the Mohafizins in order to stop these quarries from working and damaging houses and groundwater.
Then the Minister of Information, Mr Farid Mokary, stated the topics the cabinet examined and listed its decisions.
To adopt a draft decree to modify the plan of Hazmieh-Azzalqa-Antelias Highway
To adopt a draft decree to ratify detailed plans of park sites in the gardens region in Tripoli.
To adopt a draft decree which transfers a fund from the 1996 budget of telecommunications to the Council of Development and Reconstruction, to install a phone central in Bourj Al-Barajeneh, and provide sets for the second phone systems.
To modify the price of social care, so that the ministry of social affairs could play a social role in the cases provided by the care priorities.
To adopt the request made by the ministry of agriculture in order to accept one million plants offered by the Syrian ministry of agriculture and discharge the gift from customs dues.
To grant rewards to the successful students in Lebanese Baccalaureate.
To accept to participate in the meeting of Arab ministry of justice, through a delegation headed by the Lebanese minister of justice, besides the Lebanese ambassador in Cairo
To adopt the request made by the telecommunications ministry to conclude agreements with local contractors in order to expand the actual phone systems in all regions of Lebanon.
Asked about the audio-visual employees issue, Makary said it was postponed to the next session.
The president of the republic, Mr. Elias Al-Hrawi, discussed yesterday in Baabda, with the head of the parliament, Mr. Nabil Berreh, the present situation.
Al Hrawi also received the parliament vice president, Elie Al-Ferezli, who said to the press that the meeting was about the audio-visual media law.
Al-Ferezli considered multiple media essential to represent different opinions in a country which protects civil rights and freedom. People are reacting because they're afraid. There must be a media law which organizes its work as in civilized countries, so that it would remain free and democratic.
Al-Ferezli also declared that the government was responsible of executing its decisions, and that all parties should work together in order to develop the country as a whole, and the Bekaa region as a priority.
The minister of information, Farid Mokary visited yesterday the Maronite Patriarch, Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, and gave him a paper containing the mechanism of work of religious media, the meeting was attended by the head of the episcopal committee for telecommunications media, bishop Roland Abou Jaoudeh, the director of catholic office for Information, father Antoine Ajjmayyel, and the member of the Christian-Islamic Dialogue committee.
Sfeir insisted on preserving all kinds of freedom, and Mokary described the first impression of the patriarch as positive. The mechanism itself is to keep the broadcasting centers of the voice of charity and Tele Lumiere, but under condition that they broadcast on frequencies fixed by the state.
The church would still supervise programs. Cardinal Sfeir was then joined by deputy Boutros Harb, who said the meeting was about the audio-visual employees media. Harb declared wrong the way the state was handling the matter. He urged the government to re-examine the media file, and asked the potentially new government to take responsible decisions , the problem can't be solved for the employees by having a fund or making them work in the National News Agency, which on the other hand, can't afford such great numbers.
Then Sfeir met with deputy Nayla Mouawad, who said she participated in stipulating the media law, which is very possible but its execution was completely wrong and inadmissible.
At 3:45 P.M. yesterday, began the second sit-in, which the general syndicate union and the proceeding committee, stemming from the national gathering called for . There were about 1000 persons, among which the director of the ICN, engineer Henry Sfeir, with a delegation of the network, besides deputies Zaher Al-Khatib, Samir Aoun, Isam Noaman, Hussein Al-Hajj Hassan, Mohammad Bourjawi and Habib Sadeq, the head of the General Syndicate Union, Elias Abou Rizk and high-ranking members of the Unions, the general secretary the communist party, Farouq Dahrouj, with a delegation, the vice president of the phalanges party, Karim Bakradouni also with a delegation, the general secretary of the popular Naser Organization, Ousama Saad the general secretary of the communist Labour organization, Mohsen Ibrahim, the member of the leadership of socialist and progressive party, Bassam Daou, the representative of the national and social syrian party, the high council , Mahmoud Abd El-Khaleq, a delegation of the free patriotic movement, a delegation of the liberal party, and other persons and members of committees and associations.
The sit-in became after a while a peaceful demonstration, through some of the capital streets, and when the demonstrators , calling for the government president to resign, got closer to the governmental palace, there were greats numbers of police forces, and both sides couldn't but fight each other. However, the head of the G.S.V. Mr Elias Abou Rizk worked to calm down demonstrators and high-ranking police officers tried to make their men ease so that no injuries would occur.
Meanwhile, speeches made by Mr .Elias Abou Rizk, Hozballah deputy Hassein Al-Hajj Hassan, deputy Zaher Al-Khatib, Mr. Sfeir,deputy Noaman were delivered .
Almost all the demonstrators denounced the governmental measures to stop the audio visual media broadcasting and to narrow down the freedom horizon, while the country as a whole was in desperate need of social and cultural uplifting.
It remains to mention that severe security measures were taken yesterday morning around the governmental palace to stop the sit-in and great numbers of police forces were deployed in the Sanayeh region.
The Lebanese basketball federation declared that according to the administrative committee decision aiming to establish various commissions to prepare programs of work, the commission in charge with the from of work brought up its program. Ratified after discussion, it contains the following items.
1-To count the clubs in the federation, and those authorized by the department, and which are not included in the 77 clubs submitted by the federation to the General Department for youth and sport from october 12th 1996 till October 27th 1996
2-To visit the clubs and listen to the problems they're facing
3-To have regular sessions with club officials, in order to share their suggestions.
4-To uplift the playing level in remote regions, through restoring some clubs searching for good players in schools, and building training centers for those players.
All this is to be done, in coordination with:
A-The Olympic Committee.
B-The General Department for youth and sports, to organize school championship, for all categories, and to pick national teams for categories also, and to train all of them.
C-The universities federation.
D-The national institute for sport.
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