A prosecutor ordered an emergency investigation yesterday into what caused a power outage that hit more than half of Greece and whether one could strike during the Olympics, now only a month away.
The government formed its investigative committee after blaming Monday's blackout on alleged mismanagement of the electricity distribution network. Its findings will be released in eight days, an official said.
"We will determine the causes and make immediate corrections," government spokesman Panos Livaditis said.
But at least one official said the problems that led to the outage could not be fixed in time for the Aug. 13-29 Olympics.
Greece's Public Power Corp. said it would now have its staff help monitor the electricity grid to ensure a blackout does not take place during the Olympics, a company spokeswoman said.
Chief prosecutor Dimitris Papagelopoulos ordered his investigation as government leaders and power company officials held emergency meetings into the power outage that left nearly two-thirds of Greece's 11 million people without electricity for as long as seven hours. In Athens, power was mostly restored within three hours.
A senior police official said steps had been taken to ensure a blackout would not affect security systems safeguarding Olympic venues and that sites had backup power supplies, such as generators.
"Our operations centers all have alternative energy sites. All the Olympic sites and command centers have backup power. A blackout will not be a problem for security at Olympic locations," police spokesman Col. Lefteris Ikonomou said.
The investigations came as the chief operator for Greece's electricity grid and the Public Power Corp., or PPC, exchanged barbs about who was to blame.
Evangelos Lekatsas, chairman of the Hellenic Transmission System Operators, which distributes the nation's electricity, warned that Athens risked another blackout during the Olympics if power consumption was high because of a heat wave.
Heavy use of air conditioners during Monday's 104-degree temperatures was partly blamed for the blackout.
The Public Power Corp. disagreed and said Greece had more than enough electricity to deal with such a problem. The blackout, it said, was caused by how the grid was managed.
Public Power spokeswoman Maria Beskou said the PPC had lost a measure of trust in the transmission company after the outage.
"We will have two to four people on alert after this. The trust we had is not there anymore," Beskou said.
Lekatsas's transmission company is state-controlled but operates independently of the PPC, which is about 55 percent-owned by the state.
Additions to Britain
Olympic heptathlon champion Denise Lewis and 200-meter silver medalist Darren Campbell were selected for Britain's Olympic team yesterday despite suffering injuries at last weekend's trials.
Lewis, Campbell and marathon world-record holder Paula Radcliffe are the biggest names on Britain's 47-member team. Radcliffe was also named in the 10,000 meters.
American Malachi Davis, whose mother was born in London, was not selected. Davis finished fifth in the 400 meters at the trials and failed to earn an automatic berth.
Davis needs to meet the Olympic qualifying time of 45.55 seconds at a meet in Loughborough, on Saturday. He'll race against Sean Baldock, who finished third in the trials but has yet to reach the qualifying standard.
Greek Softball in Town
Greece's Olympic softball team will play a doubleheader against a pair of D.C. area all-star teams at 3 and 5 p.m. Sunday at the University of Maryland's Terrapin Softball Complex. The doubleheader is part of an East Coast tour for the Greek team.
Admission is $5 for the doubleheader. Tickets can be purchased at www.dcasa.org