Greek PM creates Civil Protection ministry after devastating wildfires

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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis unveiled a small cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday creating a Civil Protection portfolio weeks after raging wildfires devastated the country.

The newly-established ministry will be helmed by Evangelos Apostolakis, a retired admiral who previously served as minister of defence.

Government spokesman Giannis Oikonomou stressed that “the fire service will be integrated into this ministry.”

The ministries of Health, Citizen Protection and Tourism were also impacted by the reshuffle with Athanassios Plevris taking over Vassilios Kikilias as the new health tsar, while Kikilias takes control of the tourism portfolio. Panagiotis Theodorikakos, a former minister of interior for Mitsotakis, has been given the citizen protection ministry.

A raft of junior ministers was also unveiled in the ministries of finance, foreign affairs, transport, rural development and food.

More than 100,800 hectares of land, as well as houses and businesses, were destroyed by the wildfires in just under three weeks across Greece over the summer.

Thousands of Greek firefighters, assisted by colleagues and equipment sent from other European Union member states, battled more than 580 blazes. The largest fire broke out on the island of Evia, leading to apocalyptic scenes as residents and tourists were forced to evacuate rapidly advancing flames by boat.

The blazes were fuelled by scorching temperatures as the country suffered through its worst heatwave in 30 years.

The government was criticised for its handling of the wildfires — which Mitsotakis has described as the “worst ecological disaster” in decades — as local authorities deplored “insufficient” means to tackle the blazes.

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