Tuesday 20 March 2018

Tsipras's cabinet reshuffle delayed as fires erupt in suburbs

People flee from one of the fires that broke out around Athens yesterday
People flee from one of the fires that broke out around Athens yesterday

Paul Tugwell

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had to delay his planned cabinet reshuffle to turn his attention to fire-fighting operations as several large blazes threatened homes across the country.

But after overseeing the firefighting operation, Mr Tsipras removed two ministers who had voted against the government line in passing emergency bailout legislation.

He replaced Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis with the former Labour Minister, Panos Skourletis, while Trifon Alexiadis becomes the new deputy finance minister following Nadia Valavani's resignation in the run-up to the vote earlier this week.

However, yesterday's reshuffle was limited, with nine changes overall.

In all, firefighters were battling 49 fire fronts, mainly in southern Greece and near the capital.

About 200 people trapped by one fire were plucked off a beach by rescue boats in Lakonia, in southern Peloponnese.

Fifty-one fire brigade vehicles, one helicopter and five Canadair planes battled the blaze.

Strong winds fanned smoke across southern Athens as a blaze on the Ymittos mountain, in the suburb of Karea, threatened inhabited areas of Ilioupoli and Vironas, according to the fire brigade.

"It will take calm and effort from all sides so we can deal with these fire fronts," said Mr Tsipras, after visiting the Civil Protection Centre in Athens.

Irish Independent

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