Wildfires Ravage Greek Islands: Evacuations and Repatriation Efforts Underway

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Evacuations have commenced from a beach in Corfu to rescue individuals escaping wildfires on the Greek island, while numerous Britons await repatriation flights from Rhodes.

The Greek Coast Guard reported that approximately 59 people have been evacuated from Nissaki Beach on the northwest coast, involving six coast guard vessels and nine private boats.

Concurrently, efforts are being made to evacuate hundreds of Britons from Rhodes, where one of the largest evacuations in Greek history has occurred. Tourists and residents sought refuge in schools and shelters as flames threatened resorts and coastal villages. Some were rescued on private boats from beaches, but many had to endure uncomfortable conditions, sleeping on beaches, pool sun loungers, or streets.

Overall, nearly 19,000 people have been rescued from Rhodes.

In response to reports of wildfires, Greece's Emergency Communications Service issued evacuation orders for certain areas of Corfu. Residents in the regions of Santa, Megoula, Porta, Palia, Perithia, and Sinies were instructed to leave the island on Sunday evening. Subsequently, tour operators Jet2, TUI, and Correndon cancelled flights departing for Rhodes in the upcoming days.

Various travel companies have taken measures to assist affected travellers. Thomas Cook cancelled some scheduled holidays and is offering full refunds to customers who choose to cancel their trips. Easyjet has arranged two repatriation flights from Rhodes on Monday, in addition to the nine regular flights between Rhodes and the UK, providing 421 extra seats for evacuations. The airline also committed to another repatriation flight back to the UK on Tuesday and assured continuous monitoring of the situation.

The wildfires in Rhodes have severely impacted parts of the island frequented by tourists, but Olga Kefalogianni, Greece's tourism minister, commended the locals for displaying solidarity with the affected visitors. Despite the challenges, he stated that the island is functioning well overall.

Areas such as Kiotari, Gennadi, Pefki, Lindos, Lardos, and Kalathos, which are popular tourist destinations, suffered extensive damage from the wildfires. In Lindos, known for its acropolis on a massive rock within medieval walls, the hillside and buildings were charred by the blaze.

As the situation unfolds, authorities and residents are offering temporary accommodation to between 4,000 and 5,000 people, with donations of essentials like mattresses and bedclothes being sought.

The tourists affected on Rhodes include nationals from France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Britain. The island, which usually hosts up to 150,000 visitors during peak season, has a resident population of around 125,000.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024