On Sunday, the Greek authorities continued evacuating and sheltering residents and tourists in several villages on the island of Rhodes, where forest fires have been raging for five days. About 30,000 people have already been evacuated, including 3,000 by sea.
A spokesman for the Greek firefighters confirmed that the fire, which was fanned by strong winds and stretched more than 9 km from the center of the island to the east, creates extreme conditions. “It is not a fire that will end tomorrow or the day after. It will trouble us for several more days,” he added.
Use of private boats
Alerted by the text messages, the tourists flee to the beach, carrying their bags and children. [Argyris Mantikos/Eurokinissi via AP – Keystone]In Athens, the Crisis Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been activated to facilitate the evacuation of foreign nationals. Local authorities on the island said they sheltered 30,000 people threatened by the fire. About 3,000 others were evacuated by boat off the island.
According to the Greek coast guard, the evacuees were on the beaches of Kiotari and Lardos, on the eastern coast of this Mediterranean island. Three coast guard boats were carrying out this operation, in which more than thirty private boats participated, while a Greek navy ship was heading towards the area.
After being warned by a text message, the tourists fled to the beach with their bags and children. Some missed the plane again because of the roads cut off by the fire. “We had a disastrous night out. People were sleeping everywhere, on top of each other, by the thousands. The next day, transportation was not possible before 1pm.
The largest evacuation in Greece
A Rhodes municipality official said three ferries had been ordered at the port of Rhodes to house the rescued people, while dozens of buses had been chartered to assist with the evacuations.
Five helicopters and 173 firefighters are involved in fighting the flames. Three hotels were damaged in the Kiotari sector. Since the road was sometimes blocked by fire, people had to leave on foot.
According to the deputy fire chief, this fire, which broke out in a mountain in the center of the island, is the most difficult that the firefighters have faced in Rhodes. On Sunday, a police spokeswoman said the emergency services had carried out “the largest evacuation operation ever carried out in Greece” on the island of Rhodes.
Five helicopters and 173 firefighters are involved in fighting the blaze in Rhodes. [Argyris Mantikos/Eurokinissi via AP – Keystone]
It is probably the longest heat wave
Greece is currently experiencing an exceptionally long heat wave, with temperatures expected to rise above 44 degrees this weekend.
“It is likely that we will see a heat wave of 16-17 days, which has never happened before in our country,” Kostas Lagovardos, research director at the Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development at the National Observatory in Athens, told ERT TV.
You need absolute vigilance […] Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis warned that the hard times have not passed. “We are facing a new heat wave” and “potentially strong winds” that have already ignited several fires around the capital since Monday, he added.
Within 24 hours, 46 new fires have started in the country, according to firefighters. Today, Saturday, the meteorological services announced that the mercury level is two to three degrees higher than normal at sea level.
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