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Greece Wildfires: Fires Still Blazing on Rhodes and Corfu

Greece wildfires Corfu Rhodes
Corfu is the latest Greek island to evacuate over wildfires. Credit: AMNA

Wildfires are still burning in several parts of Greece despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters aided by planes and helicopters.

On Rhodes, the fire entered the village of Asklipio on Monday and was burning homes, shops and property that was in its path. The inhabitants were appealing for help as firefighting forces and volunteers in the area tried to get the fire under control.

Two fronts had been threatening the village since Sunday night, with firefighters, volunteers and residents unable to stop the flames from entering the settlement in spite of a battle throughout the night.

Two rekindled fires have also besieged the villages of Gennadi and Vati.

The situation was considered extremely dangerous and for this reason, the entire force of the fire brigade and a large number of volunteers were lined up on both fronts to try and stop them.

The blazes erupted in peak tourism season, sparking the country’s largest-ever wildfire evacuation — and leaving flights and holidays canceled.

Hundreds of holidaymakers milled inside Rhodes international airport, some trying to sleep on their beach towels while waiting for flights off the island.

Thousands of tourists were forced to flee their hotels and images captured their dramatic evacuation off of beaches by a fleet of private boats while the fires raged in the background.

Winds of up to 49 kilometers (31 miles) per hour complicated efforts to bring the flames under control. At least three hotels have been destroyed in the dense forest area of Kiotari on the east of Rhodes.

“This is the biggest fire evacuation ever in Greece,” Konstantia Dimoglidou, Greek police spokeswoman told AFP of the Rhodes operation. “We had to evacuate an area of 30,000 people.”

Police said the authorities had transported 16,000 people across land, and evacuated 3,000 by sea. Others had to flee by road or used their own transport after being told to leave the area.

German travel giant Tui said it was suspending all its inbound passenger flights to Rhodes until Tuesday but would send empty planes to help evacuate tourists.

Wildfires take a heavy toll on Rhodes wildlife

Several of the deer and other animals on the island of Rhodes have been killed in the forest fires raging on Rhodes.

“We have losses but we do not yet have a full picture of the extent of the destruction because we cannot go to areas where the fire is still raging,” the head of the Regional Council and Councillor for the primary sector Filimonas Zannetidis told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, while noting that the picture that was emerging “was not at all good”.

He said that several deer but also sheep and goats have died in the fire, which started in the Apollonon-Laermon forest, a key habitat for the island’s deer.

“We hope that many of the deer in this forest region will have managed to escape to adjacent forests. More generally, however, the damage to the island’s ecosystem from the ongoing fire is very great but the extent of the destruction will become apparent in the next few days,” Zannetidis said.

Evacuation ordered in Corfu, Greece

Evacuation orders were issued for 12 settlements on the island of Corfu on Sunday evening, as wildfires are raging out of control in the holiday island of Greece.

Dozens of firefighters are trying to stop the fire that broke out in the area of Perithia in the north of Corfu Town.

The fire is burning forest and grassland moving in a southeasterly direction.

So far, the settlements of Santa, Megoula, Porta, Palaia Perithia, Sinies, Viglatouri, Nisaki, Rou, Katabolo, Kentroma, Tritsi, Kokkokylas, Sarakiniatika, Plagia, Kalami, Vlahatika and Kavalleraina have been evacuated, following messages through 112 which were sent to their residents.

According to an announcement by the Coast Guard, an operation was carried out to rescue people from the beach of Nisaki in Corfu, in which six Coast Guard vessels, seven small private vessels, two large capacity private vessels and a tugboat participated.

In total, a total of 59 people were safely rescued from a boat and two barges heading towards the port of Corfu.

64 new wildfires in Greece on Sunday

The Fire Service announced that 64 new forest fires broke out on Sunday as Greece is battered by an extended spell of extreme heat.

Fires broke out elsewhere in the country Sunday. The most serious one was on Evia, Greece’s second-largest island, where authorities told residents of four southern villages to evacuate to the town of Karystos, west of where the fire was advancing.

Central Greece Vice Governor Giorgos Kelaiditis, who was near one of the villages, told state agency AMNA that the situation is difficult:

“The fire maybe 2 kilometers away, but the wind is strong, the growth is low, the smoke thick and the air is hard to breathe,” he said.

Northern Evia was devastated by wildfires in August 2021.

Another wildfire is raging in the northern Peloponnese, near the town of Aigio.

This is a developing story

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