People take refuge in a sports hall in Venetocleio following wildfires on the Greek island of Rhodes on July 23, 2023.
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Wildfires raged on the Greek island of Rhodes on Monday, with authorities saying the risk of further fires was increasing in almost all parts of the country and travel agencies starting flights for tourists.
Fires erupted in Rhodes from Wednesday as hell reached coastal resorts in the southeast of the island, displacing 19,000 people over the weekend. Wildfires also broke out, forcing people to evacuate Corfu.
Rhodes and Corfu are among Greece’s top destinations for tourists, mainly from Britain and Germany.
“It’s been seven days since the fire broke out and it’s still not extinguished,” Konstantinos Tarasurias, deputy mayor of Rhodes, told state broadcaster ERT.
Tourists spent the night on the airport floor waiting for repatriation flights, the first of which arrives at night.
holiday company TuiUK and Ireland division said it planned to return three flights of passengers from Rhodes back to the UK and return all affected people as soon as possible.
“It was quite a struggle on the beach because of the smoke,” said John Hope, a tourist from Manchester, England.
Austrian tourist Mario Wiese said he spent two days at Rhodes airport and had to arrange his own flight back to Germany on Monday evening.
“We’ve been lying here for two days, no blankets, nothing, children lying here who need milk,” he said. “We had to arrange everything by ourselves as no one would look after us here. I don’t understand.”
Travel companies Jet2, TUI and Corendon have canceled flights to Rhodes.
British easy jet The airline announced on Monday that it will operate two repatriation flights from Rhodes to London’s Gatwick airport, in addition to the nine flights already operating between Rhodes and London’s Gatwick airport.
The airline announced on Tuesday that it will add repatriation flights.
Ryanair It said flights to and from Rhodes were operating as normal. Chief Financial Officer Neil Sorahan said Monday the airline is monitoring the situation.
“At the moment there is no need (to increase the number of flights), so we are trying to get them to book earlier flights.”
Corfu is being evacuated by sea, with about 59 people removed from the coast on Sunday. Footage from the island showed the horizon blazing with fires in the mountains.
On Rhodes, some vacationers said they had walked miles in the heat to reach safety. Trees were blackened by the fire, and animal carcasses lay on the road near burnt-out cars.
On July 17, 2023, wildfires are raging near houses in the village of Irini, near the resort town of Loutraki, about 80 kilometers east of Athens.
Valerie Gash | AFP | Getty Images
Greece is hit by frequent wildfires during the summer, but climate change is causing more extreme heatwaves across southern Europe.
The Civil Protection Agency said almost all parts of Greece faced a wildfire threat of “very high, very high or on alert” on Monday.
Temperatures have exceeded 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in many parts of the country over the past week and are expected to remain so for the next few days.
Emergency services were also responding to fires on the island of Evia, east of Athens, and Aizio, southwest of Athens.