Today, a significant evacuation operation took place on the southeastern Greek island of Rhodes due to the approaching forest fires threatening the tourist resorts of Kiotari and Lardos, as reported by the daily Kathimerini. Numerous tourists and locals, amounting to several thousand individuals, were successfully evacuated to safety. The coordinated effort involved buses, coastguard boats, and approximately 30 private boats.
The Czech Foreign Ministry confirmed that Czech tourists were among those evacuated, and their embassy in Athens remained in close contact with the relevant travel agencies to ensure the well-being of Czech citizens at the fire site.
According to the DPA news agency, citing Skai TV, the evacuation warning was issued less than two hours after noon, prompting both locals and hotel guests to evacuate promptly. The operation was well-organized, jointly executed by the police and the coastguard. Additionally, Greek navy vessels were deployed to support the evacuation efforts.
Footage from Greek television showed the severity of the situation, with flames threatening guesthouses and thick smoke engulfing the area. Regrettably, three hotels in the Kiotari area were damaged by the fire.
The firefighters’ task was further complicated by strong winds in the region, and precautionary measures such as cutting electricity supplies in some parts of Rhodes were implemented.
The evacuations occurred in the southeastern region of the island, primarily in the Kiotari resort area, where the fire had been raging for five consecutive days. Tourists were relocated southwards to the Gennadi resort, where they were provided with alternative accommodations in hotels. Some were accommodated in a covered stadium, and a ferry was also available for transportation.
Residents of the village of Laerma in the central part of Rhodes were also instructed to evacuate on Friday night due to the escalating fire situation.
The forest fire battle was further challenged by a heatwave, with temperatures reaching around 40 degrees Celsius across much of Greece for a week. Meteorologists predicted that the extreme heat would persist for another week, with a slight cooling expected on Monday. This weekend’s temperatures could potentially mark the hottest July in 50 years.
The situation remains critical, and authorities are diligently working to control the wildfires and ensure the safety of residents and visitors on the island.