Due to a change in wind direction, the fires that have been burning in Rhodes for several days have started to approach dangerously fast towards the tourist zone. Over two thousand people, including Poles, were evacuated to cruise ships and to safer areas of the island. Other tourists are still waiting for help. Wassilis Warthakogiannis, spokesman for the local fire brigade, said the fire would continue to burn for days.
A fire on the Greek island of Rhodes spread to a so-called tourist zone on Sunday morning as winds changed 180 degrees. About 1,200 people are still waiting to be evacuated, said fire brigade spokesman Wassilis Warthakogiannis.
– This is not a fire that will end tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. It will burn for days,” said Warthakogiannis, quoted by AFP.
Firefighters, supported by firefighting planes and reinforcements from Slovakia, fought in the night from Saturday to Sunday with new outbreaks of fire, whose nine-kilometer front changed direction.
In Athens, the government has appointed a special crisis staff at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to manage the evacuation of foreign tourists. About 2,000 people have been evacuated so far, according to the Greek, English-language news website eKathimerini. So far, the action has gone “without incidents” and affected less than 10 percent of the island’s tourist establishments.
“It was clear from the morning that the fire was spreading”
With the editorial office Contact 24 Jakub, who was evacuated from a hotel in Rhodes on Saturday, contacted us. He arrived on the island on Friday as part of a trip with the Grecos travel agency. – After arrival, we were informed about the fire hazard, but at that time there was no need to evacuate. Today from the morning, however, it was visible that the fire was spreading, so I guessed that there might be an evacuation, which happened in the afternoon – he reported on Saturday.
– We were taken to the beaches, where after some time coaches arrived and took us nearby, to the town of Lindos, that is, in the south of the island, where we are currently waiting for accommodation in a new hotel – he reported – We are in contact with the travel agency, our stay is scheduled for next Friday and for now there is no need to shorten it, only to change accommodation – he added.
Mr. Jakub sent us photos showing clouds of smoke rising over the island.
“They started to transfer us to cruise ships”
We were also contacted by Mr. Marcin, who is also on vacation there. “We have been evacuated from the hotel to the sea as fires are spreading rapidly in the western part of the island,” he said. The man said he was on a cruise ship at sea with other evacuees. – I got a government evacuation message before 2 p.m. local time. (…) First, we were evacuated to a nearby beach due to the fact that the fire was coming down from the hills towards the hotel. There were fire departments working between the hotel and the beach. After 15 minutes on the beach, we were transferred to motorboats, and by motorboats to cruise ships that were obliged by the Greek government to provide assistance, he reported. – There are also more ships to help with the evacuation. We are awaiting instructions from the Greek government. The latest information shows that we can be taken to a safe place where we will receive further instructions. For now, we are drifting at a safe distance from the shore – he concluded.
Fires in Greece
A fire in the eastern part of the island of Rhodes broke out on Tuesday in a mountainous area. A state of emergency was declared there on Thursday. Greek firefighters are supported in fighting the fire by colleagues from other countries. Polish firefighters help in firefighting operations. On Saturday, the fire spread and remained out of control. About 1,000 people were evacuated from the coastal town of Kiotari in the south-eastern part of the island. Three hotels were damaged there, which people had previously left, the Athens-Macedonian Press Agency (ANA-MPA) reported. Evacuations were also carried out in the nearby resort of Lardos. Four Coast Guard vessels and about 30 private boats were involved in the operation.
There is a heatwave in Greece. The temperature in the shade exceeds 40 degrees Celsius. Meteorologists there estimated on Friday that Saturday and Sunday “could be the hottest July weekend in 50 years”. On Sunday, the temperature can reach 44 degrees C in Athens and 45 degrees in Thessaly. This means another day with an extremely high fire risk.
Meteorologists warn that the current heatwave will last in Greece until the end of the month.
Contact 24, amna.gr, PAP, tvnmeteo.pl
Main photo source: PAP/EPA/DAMIANIDIS LEFTERIS