(CTN News) – Hundreds of British holidaymakers have been repatriated from Rhodes, Greece, as wildfires ravage the island. The fires have forced tourists to flee hotels, sleep outdoors, and seek refuge in evacuation centers, airports, and sports facilities.
With an estimated 10,000 Britons in Rhodes during the crisis, tour operators and airlines have been organizing repatriation flights to bring them back to the UK. The situation remains critical as the wildfires persist, fueled by soaring temperatures, dry conditions, and strong winds across Greece.
The Evacuation Efforts:
Passengers have been arriving at various UK airports, including Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham, and Bristol, as repatriation flights have been ongoing since Monday.
Tui and EasyJet have played crucial roles in operating these flights, bringing stranded tourists back to their home countries. Jet2 has also scheduled repatriation flights to assist British nationals affected by the wildfires.
Escaping the Flames:
Tourists on the island faced harrowing experiences as the fires spread rapidly toward resorts on the eastern coast. Many had no option but to evacuate their accommodations and seek safer locations, such as schools and evacuation centers.
The situation has been recently exacerbated by temperatures exceeding 40°C (104°F) in Greece, providing a conducive environment for the fires to spread.
Prime Minister’s Advisory:
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urged travelers to stay in touch with their tour operators or hotels if they planned to visit areas affected by the wildfires.
The UK Foreign Office has not issued an advisory against traveling to Rhodes but has dispatched personnel to work with Greek authorities and travel operators to provide assistance to affected British nationals.
Stories of Struggle:
Holidaymakers have recounted their traumatic experiences during the evacuation. Claire and Paul Jones, a couple from Leicestershire, described the distressing scenes of people fleeing hotels with their children in tow.
Newlyweds Daniel and Luna Rolfe were forced to cut short their honeymoon in Rhodes and found themselves in a packed evacuation center, seeking temporary accommodation amid the chaos.
Extent of Devastation:
The wildfires have impacted Rhodes for nearly a week, prompting the evacuation of approximately 19,000 people. The fires have also affected other parts of Greece, with around 2,500 people evacuated from Corfu, located some 1,027km (670 miles) away from Rhodes.
The exact cause of the fires remains unknown, but the combination of extreme temperatures, dry conditions, and strong winds has contributed to their rapid spread.
As wildfires continue to grip Rhodes, UK holidaymakers have been safely repatriated from the affected Greek island. The devastating situation is a stark reminder of the importance of monitoring weather conditions and adhering to safety advisories when traveling to regions prone to wildfires. As the fires persist, Greek authorities and international aid agencies continue to combat the flames and assist those affected.