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Major riots in Athens as Greek parliament approves austerity deal

Fireballs light up the evening sky in the Greek capital as parliament approves new austerity measures to help secure a €130bn bailout.

A riot police officer tries to extinguish flames from a petrol bomb thrown by protestors outside the Greek parliament.
A riot police officer tries to extinguish flames from a petrol bomb thrown by protestors outside the Greek parliament.
Image: Thanassis Stavrakis/AP

THE GREEK PARLIAMENT has this evening ratified a major new package of austerity measures – dropping 15,000 public jobs and cutting the minimum wage by a fifth – in order to secure a second EU-IMF bailout.

Precisely 200 MPs of the 300-member parliament voted in favour of the deal, brokered by the leaders of the outgoing national coalition, in a vote which wrapped up close to 1am local time in Athens.

The deal paves the way for Eurozone finance ministers to confirm the second bailout, of €130bn, and wil allow Greece to continue negotiations with its private bondholders as it seeks to write down €100bn of its national debt.

The bailout had been urgently required by Greece, which has over €14 billion of loans falling due next month and would not otherwise have the means to pay them.

The vote was met with major riots in Athens, as fireballs lit the night sky and buildings were set ablaze amid widespread rioting and looting.

At least 10 buildings, including a closed cinema, a bank, a mobile phone dealership, a glassware store and a cafeteria, were on fire. There were no immediate reports of people trapped inside.

Major riots in Athens as Greek parliament approves austerity deal
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Dozens of shops were also looted in the worst riot damage the country has seen since unrest in December 2008 following the fatal police shooting of a teenager.

Dozens of police officers and at least 37 protesters were injured in the violence, and more than 20 suspected rioters were detained. Clashes erupted after more than 100,000 protesters marched to parliament to rally against the drastic austerity deal.

“I’ve had it! I can’t take it any more. There’s no point in living in this country any more,” said a man walking through his smashed and looted optician store.

A protester who declined to give his name said: “I don’t care if an ornament shop is burning, but it’s a shame the building is old. We will win.”

A three-story corner building was completely consumed by flames with riot officers looking on from the street, and firefighters trying to douse the blaze. Protesters set bonfires in front of parliament and dozens of riot police formed lines to try to deter them from trying to make a run on parliament. Clouds of tear gas drifted across the square in front of parliament. Many in the crowd wore gas masks and had their faces covered, while others carried Greek flags and carried banners.

Riot police fired dozens of tear gas volleys at rioting youths, who attacked them with firebombs, fireworks and chunks of marble smashed off the fronts of luxury hotels, banks and department stores.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

Greek PM warns of ‘economic and social catastrophe’ if MPs vote No

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Gavan Reilly

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