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Greek PM closes banks to slow cash withdrawal frenzy

UPDATE: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced in a televised address on Sunday that Greek banks and the Athens Stock Exchange will remain closed Monday, and restrictions will be placed on ATM cash withdrawals.

Tsipras did not elaborate on what kind of capital controls will be imposed, or when they will expire.

Senior bank officials said that 500 of Greece’s more than 7,000 ATMs temporarily ran out of money on Saturday during a withdrawal frenzy.

People line up at an ATM outside a National Bank branch in Athens, Greece early June 27, 2015.  Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called a referendum on bailout demands from foreign creditors on Saturday, rejecting an "ultimatum" from lenders and putting a deal that could determine Greece's future in Europe to a risky popular vote. Photo by Yiannis Panagopoulos/Eurokinissi/Reuters

People line up at an ATM outside a National Bank branch in Athens, Greece early June 27, 2015. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called a referendum on bailout demands from foreign creditors on Saturday, rejecting an “ultimatum” from lenders and putting a deal that could determine Greece’s future in Europe to a risky popular vote. Photo by Yiannis Panagopoulos/Eurokinissi/Reuters

More than one in three ATMs in Greece ran out of cash at some point Saturday as banks struggled to provide enough euro banknotes to keep the machines running while people scrambled to withdraw money.

The run on ATMs followed Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ call for a referendum on austerity terms demanded by the indebted country’s lenders, throwing debt negotiations into disarray and placing Greece on the verge of default.

Anxious Greeks withdrew around half a billion Euros, and long lines formed as people waited for technicians to refill the machines — including a roughly 40-person line for an ATM inside the Greek parliament, Reuters reported.

If Tsipras’ left-wing government fails to reach a deal with eurozone finance ministers to extend an expiring bailout program, the stage is set for Greece to default on a crucial International Monetary Fund payment Tuesday.

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