Several hundred protesters, many of them bank employees, rallied outside parliament on Thursday (March 21st) after rumours that the island's second-largest lender, Cyprus Popular Bank was to be wound up.

The central bank governor has denied that, but that did not prevent demonstrators chanting "Keep your hands off Popular Bank" and "Hands off the bank," while several jostled with riot police, briefly breaking through a cordon, about 100 metres from the entrance to parliament.

Since the economic impasse began, rumours swirled over the future of Popular Bank and Cyprus Bank which sparked the concern of the employees.

One Bank of Cyprus employee, Angela Toniou, said people fear the worst.

"We're afraid that the whole system is collapsing and it's today, it's the Cyprus Popular Bank, and tomorrow, the rest of the banks and if the banks collapse...the whole Cyprus, everything, collapses," she said.

The governor of the Central Bank, Panicos Demetriades, said on Thursday that Cyprus will take measures to consolidate its banking sector, including steps to avoid bankruptcy at Cyprus Popular Bank.

"By establishing this legal framework, resolution measures will be imposed on Popular Bank so that it will be in a position to continue to offer banking services to its clients next Tuesday," when banks are due to reopen, he told reporters.

Demetriades did not elaborate, but said the steps would protect deposits of up to 100,000 euros.

Presented by Adam Justice