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MALTATODAY 27 November 2022

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2 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 27 NOVEMBER 2022 NEWS MATTHEW VELLA SENIOR Cabinet ministers are positioning themselves for the eventuality that Chris Fearne, the deputy prime minister and minister for health, may be Rob- ert Abela's choice for European Commissioner in 2024. The health minister, once a leadership rival to Abela in 2020, carved for himself a prominent role during the COVID pandemic as he led the island's health response during the following two years. His distinguished contribu- tion has been recognised by World Health Organisa- tion heads. In the wake of Labour's annual general confer- ence, leading delegates and executive com- mittee mem- bers, as well as two Cabinet ministers, spoke of minister of the economy Silvio Schembri as a possible contender for the vacancy for the deputy leadership. Schembri is said to enjoy a close relationship with Abe- la, even though his internal critics might find him not to be a bonding figure required for the role. The PM on the other hand, is believed to see Schembri as a safe pair of hands for the deputy role. Other potential candidates being mentioned could be ei- ther education minister Clift- on Grima, or Gozo minister Clint Camilleri. Both minis- ters recorded high first-count votes in the March 2022 elec- tion. A senior Cabinet minis- ter said Fearne's decision on whether to accept to move to the EU Commission would allow Abela to carry out a Cab- inet reshuffle, and bring in new faces from the backbench, many of whom have expressed frustration at their lack of in- v o l v e m e n t in govern- m e n t activity. First whispers of ministers planning moves for deputy role Education minister Clifton Grima Minister for the economy, Silvio Schembri KURT SANSONE ONE man died and two sus- tained slight injuries in a large explosion at the St Joseph fire- works factory in Kirkop on Sat- urday morning. In a post on Facebook, the San Gużepp club said that Leonard Camilleri, 64, who had previ- ously served as the factory's licencee, had died in the explo- sion. Camilleri had retired from making fireworks some years ago but had recently returned to his hobby. Nardu iż-Żurrieqi, as Camill- eri was known by those closest to him, had previously injured his hand in another explosion at the same fireworks factory on 13 February 2012. Saturday's blast happened shortly after 7am at the fire- works factory, which is situated near the airport. At the time of the blast there were people working inside the building. Soon after the explo- sion it became apparent that one person remained unac- counted for, while others were injured in the blast. The police later confirmed that Camilleri died on the spot, while another man who was inside the fireworks factory, aged 45, was slightly injured. Two other men aged 63 and 72 from Żurrieq who were tilling their fields in the vicinity were also hospitalised. The 72-year- old sustained no injuries while the 63-year-old was certified as suffering from slight injuries. The massive explosion sent a large plume of white smoke into the air that was visible from several parts of the is- land, while the blast rocked the southern areas. People living in Żurrieq described to Mal- taToday, a massive blast that shook the glass panes of their windows. The Civil Protection Depart- ment was on site along with medical teams from Mater Dei Hospital. Police and the Armed Forces of Malta bomb disposal unit were also on site. Magis- trate Claire Stafrace Zammit is leading an inquiry and police investigations are ongoing. Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri confirmed in a Face- book post that the explosion took place at the St Joseph fire- works factory. Julia Farrugia Portelli, minis- ter for voluntary organisations, and Miriam Dalli, minister for environment, energy and en- terprise, confirmed in separate Facebook posts that Camilleri had lost his life in the explo- sion. Culture Minister Owen Bonn- ici expressed shock at the Nar- du's death: "Our hearts have been shattered by our friend Nardu's loss." Nardu Camilleri, 64, dead in explosion at Kirkop St Joseph fireworks factory, two injured Nardu Camilleri, 64, died in the explosion at the St Joseph fireworks factory in Kirkop

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