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Wildfires on Rhodes force hundreds of holidaymakers to flee their hotels | World News

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Wildfires on the Greek island of Rhodes have forced hundreds of holidaymakers to flee their hotels.

Images show the skies above the island full of smoke with the orange hue of the flames clearly visible.

Four locations close to the areas of Kiotari and Lardos in the southeastern part of the island have been evacuated.

Users on social media have been describing the scene, with Paul Karlburgi writing on Twitter: “Currently stranded in #Rhodes escaping the wildfires on foot – left everything at the hotel and fled with towels across our faces.

“My youngest just told me he doesn’t want to die. No news from any authorities. Terrifying situation here.”

Hundreds of tourists have been evacuated from their hotels on the Greek island of Rhodes as firefighters battle wildfires. Pic: rhodes.rodos
Image:
Hundreds of tourists have been evacuated from their hotels on the Greek island of Rhodes as firefighters battle wildfires. Pic: rhodes.rodos

Pic: James Hall/Instagram
Image:
Pic: James Hall/Instagram

The flames have reached three hotels, which have also been evacuated, according to local media reports.

Fire Service spokesman Yannis Artopios said more than 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines were operating on the ground, assisted by three planes and five helicopters.

The force includes 31 firefighters from Slovakia, with five fire engines.

Pic: James Hall/Instagram
Image:
Pic: James Hall/Instagram

Three coastguard vessels, plus one from the army, were evacuating people from two beaches on Saturday.

More than 20 private boats were also assisting and the Greek navy was sending a vessel.

Mr Artopios added the residents of four localities were sent SMS messages to evacuate – in two of these areas they were told to move to the northeast and, in two others, to the southwest.

Wildfires have been plaguing Greece for days as a result of the heatwave ongoing across southern Europe.

James Hall, who is holidaying on the island, told Sky News: “It was a bit of madness this morning. We got the government text telling us to evacuate then we dragged our suitcases for two hours in 40C heat.

“After the two-hour walk, we took refuge in a hotel. If we see any fire on a nearby hilltop we’ll have to evacuate again.

“We were meant to be picked up from our hotel at 7am but that seems to have burned down.

“We’ve heard nothing from our airline.

“If you were in a wheelchair the chances of you getting out in a timely manner were pretty much nil.

“There was very little help.”

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Another tourist, David Woodhouse, said fires are spreading and smoke is encompassing much of the island.

Freelance TV producer Daphne Tolis added: “More than 1,000 people evacuated by sea so far on #Rhodes as the #wildfire is raging.

“The coastguard has ordered nearby yachts and private boats to assist evacuation operations by sea.”

While holidaymaker Jon Hughes tweeted: “Jet2 where are you? No help, contact or guidance. Had to walk 4 mile in the heat across dirt tracks in smoke and ash with a 5 year old. No possessions #jet2 #rhodes #lindosimperial.”

The blaze in Rhodes was just one of several active across Greece, Mr Artopios said.

The fire northwest of Athens and one near Sparta were subsiding, he said, although the conditions, including temperatures set to reach 45C on Sunday and low humidity (below 15%), mean that the danger is not over and more wildfires might break out.

The Fire Service has designated almost the whole eastern part of the mainland, plus the islands of Evia and Rhodes, as well as large parts of the southwest, as Category 5 – the highest for the risk of fire outbreaks – on Sunday.

A further chunk of the country has been designated Category 4.

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 warned.

Firefighting forces from eight European Union countries are either operating or due to arrive soon, Mr Artopios said.

Israel, Jordan and Turkey have also sent reinforcements, mostly in the form of aerial equipment.

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