Thousands of terrified tourists flee for their lives as wildfires ravage Greek island Rhodes
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Thousands of tourists have been evacuated from their hotels as wildfires continue to rage on the Greek island of Rhodes.
Many relatives of those on holiday on the island have been left completely in the dark as the people on the island have had to flee their accommodation and be helped by the already stretched local authorities.
More than 3,500 people were evacuated from Rhodes yesterday and another 1,200 are to be evacuated from three villages – Pefki, Lindos, and Kalathos.
Greece’s fire service says that the situation could yet deteriorate further because of the expected weather.
Thankfully, no injuries have yet been reported, according to the Greek Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection.
Lieutenant Colonel Yannis Artopoios, a spokesperson for the Hellenic Fire Corps, said that these fires are the worst that the fire service has ever had to deal with.
Southern Europe is currently in the midst of a massive heatwave, and the fires have been spread by strong winds which have been fanning the flames since Tuesday (18 July).
At the minute, there are 173 firefighters and five helicopters fighting the blazes, as well as private boats arriving alongside the Greek coastguard to pick up people from beaches on the island’s eastern side.
There are also ships from the Greek navy involved.
Artopoios said that part of the problem is that Rhodes is a very green island, which is part of its tourist appeal.
One woman told BBC News that she had been on a boat trip ‘but it was getting really scary’.
Andrea Layfield, a British tourist from Cheshire staying on the island, said: "We were asking to go back so they got us and then said they couldn't go any further so we would have to wait on the beach for a while,
"As we waited the fire was coming down the beach but the beach was a dead end.”
Luckily for her, a boat arrived and she managed to get on.
Another tourist, Mark Cook, was evacuated from the island on a speedboat.
"We have just literally escaped from a 5 star luxury resort by boat amid severe conditions,” he said.
“We had to follow our instincts rather than directions.”
He said that he and his family were enjoying the sun and lying on a sun lounger one moment, then ‘the next ash is falling and smoke rapidly progressing because the winds suddenly got significantly stronger’.
He’s now flying home despite the fact his luggage is still in the hotel.
The high temperatures are set to continue, with periods as high as 45 degrees expected in some parts of the country.