Speaking in the wake of the massive wildfires that tore across Greece, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday pointed to climate change as the main culprit behind the disaster, once again stressing that his government prioritized saving lives.
“We did not suffer any casualties,” Mitsotakis told a press conference, adding that thousands of people were successfully evacuated from their homes.
“Forests will be reborn and properties will be restored,” Mitsotakis said, adding that compensation to those affected by the fires will be disbursed in the coming days.
Describing the wildfires as “the greatest ecological catastrophe of the last few decades,” the conservative leader warned that the risk of more blazes was still present. “We are in the middle of August and it’s clear we will have difficult days ahead of us,” he said.
At least 1,300 homes are estimated to have been damaged, of which 300 were utterly destroyed, by the fire that raged over nine days in Greece and also scorched 84,500 hectares of land.
Searing temperatures and dry heat caused tinder box conditions that helped the fires spread, Mitsotakis said, adding that “the climate crisis is here.”
“Everything needs to change,” he said, in preventing and responding to forest fires from the operation of the state to citizens’ behavior toward the environment.
“Bold solutions are required which I am ready to take,” Mitsotakis said, while making an overture to leftist SYRIZA.
“The contribution of the opposition is welcome,” he said, adding that the destruction had presented an “opportunity for consensus.”