Expatica news

Belgian news in brief, 1 August 2005

Ghislenghien disaster commemorated

Belgium commemorated the first anniversary of the Ghislenghien gas explosion on Saturday. “Ghislenghien was a huge tragedy for our country. However, the catastrophe also had a positive impact with the whole of Belgium showing enormous solidarity,” Interior Minister Patrick Dewael said at the memorial ceremony. Relatives of the victims also spoke and the names of the 24 killed victims were read out. Their names have been inscribed on a memorial stone. The disaster took place after construction workers ruptured one of Belgium’s most important gas pipelines. Besides the 24 deaths, 132 others were injured in the resulting fireball.

Flemish unemployment at 9.36pc

There were 256,446 people without work in Flanders in July, some 6.2 percent or 14,970 more than the same period last year. The Flemish Employment Ministry said the unemployment rate was 9.36 percent in July 2005.

Summer sales good for 5pc extra turnover

The summer sales period was rounded off with an excellent weekend, retail and warehouse association Fedis said. A survey of members found that 86 percent were pleased with the sales period and that an average 5 percent increase in turnover was recorded. “The summer sales started strongly at the beginning of July and continued at that same zest,” Fedis spokesman Paskal Deboosere. Clothes, shoes and sports articles are bargain priced during the summer sales period.

More dogs and cats dumped at shelters

There were 70,000 dogs and cats left at animal shelters in Belgium last year, 25 percent more than in 2003, the Animal Wellbeing Service and Health Ministry said. Kittens from new litters were primarily taken to animal shelters, while dogs were abandoned the most in wet weather and largely by elderly people. Fewer dogs (16.4 percent) were put down, while 45.8 percent of cats were put down. A total of 54 percent of dogs found a new home, while 40.4 percent of cats were given to a new owner. A total of 32.9 percent of lost pets are returned to their original owners.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news