Greece fires: Thousands of homes and hotels have fled in Rhodes as the fires spread

  • Written by Siobhan Tumann and Rosina Cini
  • BBC News

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Watch: Tourists congregate outside after being evacuated from their tourist hotels

Thousands of people have been evacuated from homes and hotels on the island of Rhodes, according to the Hellenic Fire Service.

Private boats have joined the Greek Coast Guard in helping to pick up people from beaches in the east of the island.

Greek navy ships are also reported to be heading to the area, which is popular with tourists.

The Greek deputy fire chief said that the fires in Rhodes are the most difficult fires his service is currently facing.

Five helicopters and 173 firefighters are working in the area, with three hotels in the Kyotari district reported damaged by the fire.

A British woman said she was evacuated from the hotel where she was staying with her sister and daughter, but is now stuck on the beach with hundreds of others due to the scorching heat.

“There’s a little hut here and there are a lot of us,” Becky Mulligan told the BBC. “There are kids, it’s the middle of the day, we’re stuck here with no help, it sucks.”

Simon Wheatley said ash started falling on the pizza when he was eating.

He told the BBC that “the hotel said it was normal and nothing to worry about as they were in contact with the authorities about the situation.”

His hotel was later vacated.

“We saw that the beach bar we were at the day before had burned down. The smoke was so bad. We had to leave two bags of luggage behind.”

Travel company TUI said a small number of its hotels were affected and it was moving customers to alternative accommodations as a precaution.

Jet2 also said it was aware of the situation in Rhodes and was asking customers to follow local guidance.

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It was reported that the ships of the Hellenic Navy were heading to Rhodes

Firefighters from Slovakia arrived in Rhodes on Saturday to help local teams fight the fires.

“The situation in Rhodes is very dangerous and difficult. Due to the strong winds and the rapid change of direction of the fire, the firefighters had to withdraw and move,” the Slovak Fire and Rescue Services wrote on Facebook.

They said part of the Slovakian rescue team had moved to seaside resorts to help with evacuation efforts there.

Greece faces more sweltering heat this weekend, with meteorologists warning of temperatures as high as 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).

One of the country’s top meteorologists said it could turn out to be the hottest July weekend in Greece in 50 years.

Firefighters continue to fight dozens of wildfires across the country. The region west of Athens is among the hardest hit, along with the Laconia region in the southern Peloponnese and the island of Rhodes.

And the authorities warn of the high risk of new fires, as temperatures continue to rise.

People have been advised to stay home, and tourist sites – including the ancient Acropolis in Athens – will be closed during the hottest parts of the next two days.

Greece – like a number of other European countries – experienced a prolonged bout of extreme heat earlier this month.

The latest heat wave comes at one of the busiest times for the country’s tourism industry.

Are you in the area? Have you been affected by the fires in Rhodes? If it’s safe to do so, you can share your experiences via email [email protected].

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