Greek inventor takes earthquake threat lying down

Sunday, July 21, 2002

PREVEZA, Greece -- A Greek inventor believes he's come up with the ultimate home accessory for places under the constant threat of earthquakes: a bed built to withstand them.

Architect Giorgos Kondodimas' creation is a heavy-framed bed that -- by releasing a latch and pulling the headboard -- turns into a protective cage.

"This can take anything ... it doesn't break," Kondodimas said as a worker dropped a third, five-ton pile of slate onto the frame near the western Greek city of Preveza, about 180 miles northwest of Athens.

Kondodimas seeks to first market his quake bed in Greece, which is riddled with fearsome fault lines. If successful, he has his sights set on other quake-prone nations such as Italy and Turkey.

In 1999, a magnitude-5.9 quake struck Athens, killing 143 people and forcing thousands out of their damaged homes. A recent public spat between Greek seismologists over their claimed ability to predict earthquakes has added to the nation's jitters.

Kondodimas, 49, has spent five years working on the bed. He said it could help the elderly and people who live in homes built before stricter construction codes were introduced.

"People always talk about the new buildings and ways of making them safer. But what about the old buildings? There doesn't seem to be anything planned for them," Kondodimas said.

The bed is equipped with survival essentials stored inside one of the legs -- cookies, bottled water, a whistle, a bag to hold urine and a dynamo-powered flashlight.

"This has everything you need to survive," he boasts.

He hopes to have a single bed on the Greek market by the end of the year, selling for about $500. He is working on the queen-size mattress version.

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