ATHENS — Greece’s minister for citizen protection resigned on Friday after he was spotted on a holiday as wildfires spread across the country.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis accepted the resignation of the minister responsible for public security services, including police, who have assisted the fire service with multiple wildfires in tourist destinations, near towns and military bases in the past two weeks.
Eyewitnesses, according to local media outlets, spotted the now ex-minister, Notis Mitarachi, on Patmos island.
“He showed up yesterday morning on a faraway island to start his holiday, boarded a boat for a few hours and then returned in the early afternoon as if nothing was wrong, with bathers in the area wondering if they are seeing properly,” said Greek newspaper Kathimerini on Friday.
Mitarachi resigned citing “personal reasons,” according to a statement by the prime minister’s office. He will be replaced by Yannis Oikonomou, the alternate sports minister.
The government is under scrutiny by opposition leaders over its ability to control the raging wildfires, particularly after one spread Thursday to a military warehouse in central Greece, just miles from a major air base, igniting ammunition and setting off huge explosions.
“Since ministers have started resigning for ‘personal reasons,’ is anyone thinking of taking responsibility for the images of collapse and destruction we are witnessing these days?” Syriza, the main political opposition party, said in a statement.
The battle with wildfires continues in Greece as temperatures reach historic highs. Wildfires have raged in the country for two weeks but seem to be under control, said the fire service, as firefighters continue to battle flareups.
Five people have died as a result of the wildfires during the last week and 74 have been injured, according to Greek authorities.