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People attend a candlelight vigil in front of the Greek Parliament to commemorate victims of the country's worst ever wildfires People attend a candlelight vigil in front of the Greek Parliament to commemorate victims of the country's worst ever wildfires  (AFP or licensors)

Greek Minister quits over killer fires

Greece’s civil protection minister has resigned in the wake of the devastating wildfires that killed at least 88 people near Athens late last month.

By John Carr

Petros Toskas stepped down under growing public pressure. The fire service, which his ministry oversees, has been widely blamed for falling down on the job of warning householders to evacuate their homes ahead of the flames and not doing enough to avert the disaster.

There is a widespread feeling here in Athens that Toskas was actually forced out by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose ruling leftwing Syriza party has been sinking fast in the polls since the fire. Greece’s conservative opposition has been calling for more resignations, including that of Tsipras himself.

In an initial reaction, government officials have pledged to bulldoze illegally-built homes by the sea, which block access to the sea in case of emergency. But as August gets into it stride, with its usual stiff breezes, many fear that the next destructive fire may be just around the corner.

Listen to John Carr's report
04 August 2018, 18:00