Greek wildfires prompt biggest evacuation

High winds forecast for yesterday were expected to hamper firefighters’ battle to contain a blaze burning out of control on the Greek island of Rhodes, sparking the biggest ever fire evacuation in Greece.

The island of Rhodes is one of Greece’s most popular tourist destinations, particularly with British, German and French tourists — many of whom are now being rapidly moved out of the path of the flames.

As Greece has been battered by an extended spell of extreme heat, flames have burned for nearly a week on the island.

“This is the biggest fire evacuation ever in Greece,” Konstantia Dimoglidou, Greek police spokeswoman told AFP.

“We had to evacuate an area of 30,000 people.”

Police said that authorities had transported some 16,000 people across land, with 3,000 evacuated by sea, and others fleeing by road or under 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 fly in empty planes to help evacuate tourists.

Spokesperson Linda Jonczyk told AFP that Tui had some 40,000 tourists in Rhodes, of which 7,800 are affected by the fires.

The low-cost British carrier Jet2 also said it had cancelled “all flights and holidays” to the island.

One German tourist told AFP they were “saved from the fire at the last moment” after returning from the beach Saturday.

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