As wildfires raged across the country, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that the Mediterranean nation was at war and ordered thousands of residents to flee the Greek islands of Corfu and Rhodes.
According to a fire brigade official, the flames on Rhodes, a popular tourist destination in Greece, continued to burn unchecked for a seventh day, forcing hundreds of people to leave their houses and hotels.
The most recent evacuations were ordered after 19,000 people, largely tourists, were relocated over the weekend out from the path of the fire that spread from neighboring highlands to various coastal locations.
The nation’s largest evacuation attempt in recent years was this one.
Around 2,400 tourists and inhabitants on the tourist island of Corfu in the western Ionian were also relocated as a precaution from Sunday into Monday. On the island of Evia and in a mountainous part of the southern Peloponnese, evacuations were reported.
“We must maintain a state of perpetual awareness for the upcoming weeks. The Greek prime minister declared to parliament, “We are at war. “We will restore what was lost, and we will make amends for those who suffered harm… The current climate problem is real. Greater catastrophes will result from it everywhere in the Mediterranean, he predicted.
Before the prognosis calls for an end to the country’s prolonged period of high temperatures, he warned that “another three difficult days ahead” lay ahead.
As assistance from the European Union and other sources began to arrive, firefighting aircraft from the neighboring country of Turkey joined the operation on Rhodes, where ten water-dropping aircraft and ten helicopters buzzed over flames that were up to five meters (16 feet) tall despite poor visibility.
The wildfire was spreading quicker than firefighters could put it out, according to Stefanie Dekker, who was reporting from the south Rhodes town of Kiotari, where gusts gusted to 50 km/h (31 mph).
“With these incredibly strong gusts, the firefighters claim there isn’t much they can do. The natives are still on the island, despite much of the attention being paid to the tourists who had to leave. Regarding how much they have lost and what is happening to their island, there is genuine despair here, according to Dekker.
Many volunteers have volunteered to help fight the fires, but there are reportedly not enough crews on the roads, according to reports.
An English visitor who was rescued by boat from his hotel on Rhodes over the weekendIt’s simply unheard of. It’s terrible. In particular for the locals, stated Jay Bundy. The people, I have to say, have been wonderful, supporting everyone in every way they can.
On Saturday, when the evacuations were ordered, Greek media showed pictures of huge lines of people, some wearing beachwear, dragging suitcases through the island’s highways. Many vacationers spent Sunday night on the floor of the Rhodes airport while they waited for flights back home after checking out of hotels and resorts.
Kelly Squirrel, a transport administrator from the United Kingdom, told AFP at Rhodes airport, “We walked for about six hours in the heat.”
According to the Greek transport ministry, 2,115 tourists were transported home on 17 aircraft between Sunday and Monday at 3 p.m. (12:00 GMT), mostly to the UK, Germany, and Italy.
According to government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis, an average of 50 new wildfires have started in Greece every day for the past 12 days.
There were 64 new fires reported on Sunday.
In southern Italy, where residents have endured weeks of sweltering weather in the upper 30s and mid-40s Celsius (113F and up), firefighters also battled fires on Monday.
The tarmac in Olbia was assessed to be dangerously hot on Monday afternoon, according to RAI state TV, forcing three aircraft from Milan, Paris, and Amsterdam to land at different airports on the Italian island of Sardinia. The asphalt heated up to a scorching 47C (116.6 F).