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Athens increases security budget

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Athens (Greece)

ATHENS, Greece -- The security budget for this year's Athens Olympic Games could reach one million euros ($1.2 billion), Greece's Public Order Minister Yiorgos Voulgarakis said on Tuesday.

Concerns over the safety of the August event were heightened last week by the explosion of three bombs outside an Athens police station -- exactly 100 days before the Games' opening ceremony.

The Greek government had originally allocated $650 billion for security.

Voulgarakis also said that the number of security personnel involved in the Games had been increased by 20,000 to a total of 70,000.

"In the next 100 days, only very few things remain to be done to complete (security) preparations, as we had initially conceived them, 100 percent," Voulgarakis told a press conference.

"We estimate that the total number of people involved, not counting volunteers, will be in the order of around 70,000.

"The exact security cost will be finally known only after the Games. But it is not unrealistic to say that the cost will approach one billion euros."

The International Olympic Committee are currently conducting a three-day review of Athens' preparations, including security.

Minor damage

Fire which broke out in the International Broadcasting Center in Athens, from where thousands of journalists will broadcast the 2004 summer Olympics, was brought under control with only minor damage, officials said.

Tuesday's fire was in the basement of the IBC, located in the northern Athens suburb of Maroussi, and reports said it was likely caused by a short-circuit.

Thick smoke could be seen billowing from various sections of the newly built facility as dozens of fire trucks battled the blaze.

An Athens 2004 Olympic official said later the fire was under control and that the building suffered minor damages.

The fire is yet another setback for Athens 2004 Olympic organisers less than 100 days to the opening ceremonies on August 13.

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