Latvija in brief - 2009-02-11

  • 2009-02-11
Latvian residents smoke 400 million lats (569 million euro) in cigarettes per a year and drink almost 200 million lats worth of alcohol, Latvian Health Minister Ivars Eglitis said in an interview with Latvian public television. Eglitis said that every year Latvia smokes through a year's health budget and stated that it means that priorities are wrong. The minister said that the society should "revise its values," and that people are spending large sums for things that are damaging their health. Eglitis said that in Latvia a patient spends about nine days in a hospital on average, while in Estonia the total is 4.4 days. When asked about the reason for this difference, he said that it may be due to "the wrong system for financing health care services." The minister said that the new financing system will promote taking care of personal health.

A dry cargo ship, Reymar, that ran aground in the Baltic Sea off Latvia's northern port of Salacgriva has been rescued by a tugboat. The ship has not been damaged. Naval Force Coast Guard official Roberts Lakucs reported that the ship was freed at 10:55 p.m. on Feb. 9. Experts investigated the ship and say that no damage has been found. The vessel is now headed to Finland. There was no environmental damage in the wreck. The Navy did not incur any expenses during the rescue operation as it was performed by the private tugboat Someri. The accident happened early on Feb. 9 as the 90-meter long ship was leaving port with woodchip cargo. A tugboat from Salacgriva port was initially sent to free the stranded vessel, but as these efforts were unsuccessful, a more powerful tugboat was called in from Riga.

U.S. ghost hunters visiting Karosta jail, the former Soviet military port in Liepaja, have recorded paranormal phenomena for their television program "Ghost Hunters International." Liepaja tourist information center head Monta Krafte said that during the first days of their visit, the international ghost hunters got acquainted with the history of Karosta, interviewed employees and people who had allegedly met the ghost in the jail. The largest part of their visit was devoted to special investigation, using special equipment for detecting noise, movement, temperature and electromagnetic fields. The ghost hunters have recorded paranormal phenomena, but the facts will not yet be released to the public.