It's the end of the world: a disaster at a popular resort, thousands of tourists are evacuating in a panic, the fire is moving to hotels

It's the end of the world: a catastrophe in a popular resort, thousands of tourists are evacuating in panic, the fire is moving to hotels

“It was like the end of the world!” – One of the tourists fleeing the famous Greek resort of Rhodes in a panic told the local press. Several resorts on this Greek island immediately began an emergency evacuation due to forest fires approaching the coast, thousands of tourists are being taken out, while the fire is already moving to the hotels.

As the Greek press quotes the deputy head of the fire department of Greece, Yiannis Artapoyos, the fire that started on a mountain in the center of the island turned out to be the worst that the firefighters of Rhodes have ever encountered. At least three popular resorts where mostly British tourists stayed were under attack – we are talking about the areas of Kiotari and Lardos. The fire blocked land roads and tourists had to be taken out by sea, coast guard ships and more than 20 private boats took part in the evacuation.

“It was like the end of the world,” says one of the roughly 2,000 British tourists evacuated from Kiotari and Lardos on the island's southeast coast. According to him, it all started with the fact that on Thursday evening, tourists noticed how “some kind of black clouds” were passing over the hotel during dinner. On Saturday at breakfast, tourists noticed that the sky was turning orange, and the sea began to blacken with soot. “Like in a horror movie, when everyone is looking at the sky and asking each other what happened, what is happening,” the tourist says. The official evacuation announcement caught them packing. At the same time, the first buses that arrived took only children and women, the rest of the tourists were sent on foot to the nearest beach – about 5 km.

“At first it was even quite good, there were not many people, there were a couple of cafes and bars where they served beer and soft drinks, and we were sure that we had left the fire. But the number of people kept coming and coming, and more and more people began to worry about how we would get out. In the meantime, it got dark – and suddenly flames shot up into the sky, the whole sky turned completely orange – it really was like the end of the world! Therefore, when the announcement about rescue boats was made, everyone rushed to the nearest berths in a panic,” he says.

The tourist and his family were lucky to refuse on one of the small boats that brought tourists to larger ships. At the same time, according to him, when he managed to dive – and people were in a panic, pushing and almost fighting – there were still hundreds of people on the beach, and the beach was “littered with suitcases”, as the luggage of tourists was not taken on board.

The authorities report that the fight against fire continues in Rhodes, more than 200 firefighters and 40 fire engines are working, assisted by three planes and five helicopters.

The force includes 31 firefighters from Slovakia with five fire engines. Israel, Jordan and Türkiye have also sent reinforcements, mostly aircraft. They also reported that seaside resorts on the central-eastern side of Rhodes are under attack. Evacuated locals and tourists have been redirected to hotels, convention centers, schools and other public places. A warning was also issued for Lindos, a city popular with tourists and famous for its acropolis dating back to before 300 BC. The eastern cities of Massari, Malonas, Charaki are also under the threat of evacuation.

At the same time, the British media are outraged that flights to the island are mostly operated as usual. Tour operators including Tui, Jet2 and easyJet have released statements saying they are working with local authorities to help their affected customers. True, air carriers assure that for tourists who want to fly away, they are ready to change the departure time for free, and some even assure that a special team has been launched to help vacationers who find themselves in an evacuation situation. “Customers currently in Rhodes who need to return home earlier can change their return flight free of charge, and anyone due to fly out of the UK next week can change their flight to a later date,” said British Airways, for example. And tour operator TUI added that a small number of hotels were affected, and as a precaution, the tour operator is relocating affected customers and providing them with alternative accommodation. In turn, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) says that travel insurance will not work for those who cancel their trips due to fears of wildfires, unless the UK government refuses to travel to the area.

At the same time, the Greek authorities also report that the entire eastern part of mainland Greece, as well as the islands of Evia and Rhodes, have been classified as risk category 5, the highest for fires. An even larger part of the country was classified as category 4.

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