Families evacuated as wildfires rage in Greece
Brits have described the “terrifying” scenes faced by holidaymakers in Rhodes as the Greek Island is ravaged by wildfires.
And officials worry more wildfires could break out later today (Sunday) as temperatures look set to reach 45C later.
Holidaymakers have faced turmoil as the five-day fire raged on throughout Saturday with power cuts causing “chaos” and an absence of information from travel agencies.
In previous days the wildfire was confined to the island’s mountainous centre, but aided by winds, very high temperatures and dry conditions, it spread on Saturday towards the coast on the island’s central-eastern side.
READ MORE: Rhodes ‘like a warzone’ as terrified Brits fend for themselves on Greek island
Local media reported the fires had reached three hotels, which had already been evacuated, while three coast guard vessels, plus one from the army, were evacuating people from two beaches.
Corinne Watson, 42, who is holidaying with her husband and two sons, told the PA news agency she had only received one automated text message from Tui, telling her they were “sorry for any disruptions”.
The mother-of-two said: “Our hotel has accepted some evacuees and hosted a few while other accommodation was found. Power losses affecting the kitchens has caused chaos but hotel staff are working exceptionally hard to manage the situation – they must be very worried for their island.
“Hotel staff [are] working flat out under desperate worry.”
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However, she said Tui had offered a “poor service” with no information on whether her area was safe or what to do in the event of an evacuation.
Ms Watson, a local government worker from Cumbria, added: “Today the sky has rarely been blue and we have had the water planes above us frequently collecting from the sea. Getting information is very difficult.
“Currently we are lucky, in a lovely hotel and hope it stays that way. For others, both tourists and locals, it is awful and terrifying. I hope they bring them under control quickly with limited damage.”
Speaking to the BBC, Simon Wheatley said: “We were told by police that we had to evacuate the building because the air was just unbreathable – it had turned bright orange and black above our heads.”
Katie Piercefield-Holmes told the BBC it was “really quite terrifying”.
A spokesman for Thomas Cook said: “We are monitoring closely the wildfires in Rhodes and are in touch with our customers who are on holiday there. Our teams are in regular contact with our holidaymakers on the island currently as well as those about to depart to discuss their options.”
There will be a brief respite in the heatwave on Monday, but it will resume on Tuesday and could last until at least Friday, meteorologists have said.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly tweeted: “The safety of British Nationals is our top priority. I encourage those in Rhodes, and those with family and friends there, to continue checking FCDO travel advice for updates.”
The Foreign Office updated its foreign travel advice on the heatwaves and wildfires in Europe.
It said: “If you are a British national affected by wildfires in Rhodes, please follow the guidance from the emergency services. Call the Greek emergency services on 112 if you are in immediate danger.
“The Greek government has established a crisis management Unit to facilitate the evacuation of foreign citizens from Rhodes. They can be contacted on +30 210 368 1730. For 24/7 British consular assistance, call +4420 7008 5000.
“If you are planning to travel to Rhodes, please check with your travel operator or hotel prior to travel that the area you plan to visit is not impacted by the current wildfires,”
Firefighting forces from eight EU countries are either operating or due to arrive soon, Mr Artopios said.
Israel, Jordan and Turkey have also sent reinforcements, mostly aerial equipment.
Tui has been approached for comment.
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