DASH FOR CASH IN CYPRUS; Queues but no panic as crisis-hit banks reopen.
ARMED guards were on duty yesterday as Cyprus's banks reopened for the first time in almost two weeks.
Hundreds of customers queued for hours to get their hands on cash.
A daily withdrawal limit of [euro]300 has been imposed in a bid to stop a run on the banks which would cripple the already fragile Mediterranean economy. Five shipping containers filled with billions of euros had been delivered to the central bank and cash was driven to branches in armoured trucks.
The limits on transactions, which include caps on withdrawals and money leaving the country, are the first in the 14-year history of the euro.
Travellers leaving the country can take up to [euro]1,000 in cash.
The restrictions will be reviewed daily. Froso Kokikou, 64, said outside a branch of Cyprus Popular Bank, also known as Laiki: "You've no idea how much I've been waiting for this. I feel a sense of fear and disappointment having to queue up like this.
"It feels like a Third World country, but what can you do? This is what they imposed on us and we have to live with it."
Kostas Nikolaou, 60, added: "How can they tell you that you can't access your own money in the bank? It's our money, we are entitled to it."
The restrictions are part of a [euro]10billion European bail out deal for Cyprus, which in return has to itself raise [euro]5.8billion.
Customers with more than [euro]100,000 in their accounts face losing 40% of their savings in return for banks shares.
President Nicos Anastasiades thanked Cypriots for their "maturity" as customers queued peacefully outside banks yesterday.
The president, who has announced he is taking a 25% wage cut and has imposed a 20% cut for Cabinet members, tweeted: "I would like to thank the Cypriot people for their maturity and collectedness shown in their interactions with the Cypriot banks."
[euro]5.8bn What Cyprus needs to raise to qualify for a [euro]10billion bail-out from Europe
PATIENT Queuesat Laiki Bank, which is due to be wound up