Rhodes: "The Greeks helped us, they opened their homes for us" - N. Irish tourists spoke about the fiery nightmare

Rhodes fire

Northern Irish tourists have praised the locals of Rhodes for helping them through their fiery nightmare.

A couple from Northern Ireland on holiday in Rhodes have described the terrifying experience of being evacuated from their hotel which was threatened by fire. Bridget Davidson and her husband Robert escaped the flames on foot.

"It was very scary, we could feel the heat of the fire behind us," she told BBC News NI.

They said hotel staff gave them wet towels with water as they moved out of the hotel. According to reports, about 19,000 people were evacuated by land and sea from their shelters.

Mrs Davidson and her husband had traveled to Kiotari, Rhodes for their first holiday in four years.

"The hotel staff came down with towels soaked in water and told us to put them on and move as quickly as we could across the shoreline, which we did," she said, adding, "The smoke started to blow in our direction, burning our eyes and burning our throats."

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A boat eventually arrived to take the couple and other tourists to safety, but she said she was scrambling to get them on board. "It was every man for himself. You were pushed, you were shoved," she added.

"A very, very nice hotel owner took pity on us when we arrived on a boat this morning and gave us a room - no charge whatsoever.

"The local Greek people have been absolutely amazing.

"All we have are the clothes we left with and our phones and passports.

"We are due to fly home on Tuesday. We have no tickets, we left them in the hotel room."

Unforgettable honeymoon trip

Mr Ruane and his wife arrived in Rhodes on Tuesday from Warrenpoint, County Down, and were due to stay for a week. They left their hotel on Saturday afternoon and found themselves on a beach with thousands of others.

"We've had no communication whatsoever from Jet2 (their tour operator), from our hotel, nothing," he said on Saturday evening.

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"It's a honeymoon we won't forget, that's for sure," he said.

On Sunday, he told BBC News NI they had been moved from the beach by Greek soldiers in the early hours.

He said it had been "getting quite scary" on the beach.

They were eventually taken to a community hall with mattresses and bedding on the top end of the island away from the fires, before a new hotel was found for them on Sunday night.


Mr Ruane said he felt much safer now but had no idea how long they would remain there.

Connie Woods, an 18-year-old from Northern Ireland, said her family slept on chairs at a school when they received a notice telling them to evacuate their resort in Pefkos. She said locals had given them food, water and medical aid.

"The Greek people have been so incredible. They're so kind. We'e currently in a lady's house (a total stranger) so Otis can have a sleep in her daughters room," wrote a social media user.

Tourists furious with travel agencies and airlines

At the same time, UK tourists in Rhodes are trying to return home as terrifying fires sweep across the Greek islands, prompting the biggest disaster evacuation ever in Greece.

Entire families have been forced to huddle on the floors of Rhodes International Airport and in sports halls for the second night in a row as they wait to be flown home. With temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius the situation becomes even more difficult.

Thousands of tourists have been waiting endless hours at the airport after being forced to leave hotels and accommodation booked to spend their summer holidays.

While the first relieved Britons were pictured arriving at London's Gatwick from Rhodes on Sunday afternoon, holidaymakers stuck on the island made no secret of their anger at travel agencies and airlines not finding them tickets to return home.

They say the Greek army has helped thousands of locals and holidaymakers, mainly British, by finding places to sleep in schools, stadiums and leisure centres.

A family was forced to sleep at one stage in just their swimwear after being forced to leave their luggage at their Rhodes hotel.

In videos making the rounds on the internet, British tourists praise the locals for their hospitality and the volunteers who were by their side from the very beginning.


"Hundreds of holidaymakers running for their lives to escape the blaze reveal they feel abandoned by travel companies," writes Britain's Telegraph.

READ MORE: Rhodes: Shocking video by a tourist in Lindos - The hotel he stayed in before and after the fire.

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