ATHENS, Greece (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) — Riot police and hooded youths hurling gasoline bombs clashed in Athens on Thursday, as tens of
thousands of people took part in a demonstration against the government’s
austerity plans during a 24-hour
A demonstrator died of a heart attack during the clashes. The man, who hospital officials said was 65-years-old, died after police fired tear gas into the crowd of an estimated 70,000 people. Several people were reported to have been injured.
The strike is the second of its kind in less than a month. It was called by the country’s biggest trade unions in protest at the latest wave of austerity measures the near-bankrupt country is expected to implement to receive another international bailout.
The demonstrators, many of them civil servants and pensioners affected by budget cuts last year, marched through Athens under banners that read: “Do you hear us? We cannot handle more austerity!”
A large majority of demonstrators are unemployed or students.
“The shop where I work is very close to going bankrupt, and if this happens I have little chance of finding work elsewhere,” said 34-year-old Kostas Paris.
Athens is facing pressure to lower its budget deficit implement measures to save $17.6 billion in 2013-14 to qualify for a $41.1 billion bailout from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
The bailout deal currently being negotiated between Athens and its international creditors is deeply unpopular with Greeks, with plans to further cuts to salaries and pensions and labor reforms a particular sore point.
Athens hopes to receive the next bailout by mid-November.
The country’s air, rail and sea transport network was paralyzed by the strike. Islands were cut off from the mainland. Air traffic controllers staged a three-hour work stoppage.
Hospitals operated on emergency staffing, while shops schools and tourist attractions across the country remained closed.