《CVRHK Latest News》 (International) Wildfires on Island of Rhodes Force Thousands to Flee to Shelter
UPDATED MON, JULY 24 2023
Thousands of tourists and residents fled from the wildfires on the Greek island of Rhodes on Sunday and sought refuge in schools and shelters, as flames threatened resorts and coastal villages. Tour operators Jet2, TUI and Correndon cancelled flights leaving for Rhodes, which is known for its beaches and historic sites. The fire has left trees black and skeletal, and dead animals have been found near burnt-out cars.
The fire brigade said that 19,000 people, including residents and tourists, were moved from homes and hotels. British holidaymakers Chris Freestone and Fay Mortimer said that they were among those who had to flee on foot and were eventually taken to a sports hall in Rhodes Town. TUI said that its teams were doing everything they could to support customers and had sent additional staff in what it called "a difficult and evolving situation".
The wildfires on Rhodes have affected 10% of the hotels situated in the central and southeast parts of the island, which is Greece's third most populated island. The north and western parts were not affected. Coastguard vessels and private boats carried more than 3,000 tourists from beaches on Saturday after a major wildfire, which has burned for nearly a week, rekindled in the southeast of the island.
Many people fled hotels when huge flames reached the seaside villages of Kiotari, Gennadi, Pefki, Lindos, Lardos and Kalathos. Evacuees were taken to conference centres and school buildings, where they were given food, water and medical assistance. One pregnant woman and another person were hospitalised, according to fire brigade spokesperson Ioannis Artopoios.
More than 250 firefighters, assisted by 18 aircraft, set up firebreaks to shield a dense forest and more residential areas. The Greek foreign ministry said it was setting up a helpdesk for people who had lost travel documents.
Reporting by Sophie Valkyrie