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Greece: Over 19000 people evacuated from the island of Rhodes as massive wildfire rages on


Around 19,000 people have been evacuated from the Greek island of Rhodes as of Sunday as wildfires raged for a sixth day on three fronts, according to Greek authorities. According to the Ministry of Climate Change and Civil Protection, this was “the largest evacuation from a wildfire in the country.”

According to the local police, 12 villages, many hotels, and 16,000 people were evacuated by land and 3,000 by sea. Six patients with respiratory issues were admitted for a limited period of time before being released. Authorities report that a pregnant woman who fractured her leg during a hotel evacuation and a person who slipped and shattered their leg both remain hospitalised.

Tour agencies cancel flights amid a chaotic evacuation

Flights to Rhodes have been cancelled by travel package providers TUI and Jet2. Jet2 announced that it was rescheduling five of its Sunday departures for Rhodes. It declared that it will transport customers back to Rhodes on five empty aircraft. TUI announced that it will stop operating any flights to the island until at least Tuesday.

With his wife and three young children, British tourist Kevin Evans was twice evacuated on Saturday, first from Kiotari to Gennadi and then as the fire got closer to the island’s capital in the northeast, he told a British news agency. He further added, “There were lots of people in Gennadi sent from the hotels — many in just swimsuits having been told to leave everything in the hotel. As night fell, we could see the fire on the top of the hills in Kiotari. They said all the hotels were on fire.”

Rhodes travel agent Stelios Kotiadis said that the evacuation was conducted in haste.  He said, “There was panic… The authorities were overwhelmed.” He further added that the abandoned hotels “are in much better condition than reported in social media. … They will be ready to reopen very soon if Civil Protection gives the go-ahead.”

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