Resorts evacuated as blaze rages out of control on Greek island of Rhodes

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Authorities have declared an evacuation order for four locations, including two seaside resorts, as a blaze continues to ravage the Greek island of Rhodes for the fifth consecutive day.

Evacuation orders for regional hotels had been issued as a precaution ahead of the fast-moving fire, at 13:42, instructing everyone, tourists at local hotels and accommodation as well as local residents, to move away from Kiotari and Asklepion towards Gennadi.

All hotels in the Kiotari area were evacuated safely and without issues, either on foot or aided by police and army vehicles, and also by the Hellenic Coast Guard vessels and the private boats.

Most of those people headed to Lardos beach, where an operation to transport them to Kalathos beach, near an army unit located there, was underway.

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Some 8 people were reportedly hospitalized with minor pulmonary issues, said the Emergency Ambulance Response Service (EKAV).

Four coast guard vessels, 6 Greek Special Forces inflatables, and a passenger 'Blue Star' ferry were all assisting the evacuation operation, alongside 6 coaches and 4 trucks provided by the Greek armed forces, it was also reported.

Initially confined to the island's mountainous center, the wildfire rapidly spread towards the coast on Saturday due to strong winds, scorching temperatures, and arid conditions.

According to local media reports, three hotels have already been evacuated as the fires have reached their vicinity.

Yannis Artopios, spokesperson for the Fire Service, stated on Saturday afternoon that SMS evacuation messages were sent to residents in four areas. While two locations were instructed to head northeast, the other two were advised to move southwest.

Although the fire near northwest Athens and the one close to Sparta were subsiding, Artopios cautioned that the situation is not yet under control due to the anticipated temperatures of 45C and humidity below 15% on Sunday. Therefore, there remains a risk of further wildfires breaking out.

The Fire Service has categorized almost the entire eastern mainland, along with the islands of Evia and Rhodes, as well as extensive parts of the southwest region, as level five - the highest for the risk of fire outbreaks on Sunday.

Meteorologists predict a brief respite in the heatwave on Monday, but temperatures will rise again on Tuesday and persist until at least Friday.

Artopios mentioned that firefighting forces from eight EU countries are currently in operation or scheduled to arrive soon.

In addition to the EU support, Israel, Jordan, and Turkey have dispatched reinforcements, primarily aerial equipment, to assist in the firefighting efforts.

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