After the evacuation of thousands of tourists and local residents, fires continue to burn in the southeast of the Greek island of Rhodes. The wildfire that got out of control over the weekend has been burning for a good week. With the onset of daylight, firefighting planes and helicopters should be used again around the village of Lerma on Monday morning, the fire brigade announced. During the night, hundreds of firefighters fought against flames that spread to other villages and towns, state television (ERT) reported.
Ten firefighting planes and eight helicopters were deployed to Rhodes on Sunday. They include two planes from France, two from Turkey, one from Croatia and a helicopter from Jordan, according to the fire department. Drought combined with high temperatures and winds will allow the fire to spread.
Thousands of tourists who had to leave their hotels around the popular holiday town of Lindos on Saturday because of thick smoke and incessant flames spent a second night in gyms and schools. Many waited at the airport for the next opportunity to leave.
However, despite the fires, more tourists arrived on Sunday with charter and scheduled flights, reporters reported. About 90 percent of Rhodes’ hotels were undamaged by the fires, according to local authority officials – but most are fully booked for high season. The authorities spoke of evacuating nearly 20,000 people, including local residents.
Meanwhile, new questions arise regarding the evacuation of hotels in the southeast of the island. Many tourists left their bags and other items, including identity papers, in their rooms. Christos Pilatakis, a hotel manager in Lindos, told the dpa news agency on Sunday that this matter has to be settled between travel agencies and hotels. First, firefighters and police will have to let the staff back. After that, the things left behind must be sent to the countries of the guests. This will take a few days.
Strong winds drive the fires even further
And the fire brigade warned again: The risk of wildfires will remain very severe in the southeast of the island on Monday and Tuesday. The reason is increased wind. However, the first hope looms: next Thursday, the heat wave in Greece that has been going on for almost two weeks now should be over. Then, according to forecasts, thermometers should again reach normal temperatures of around 35 degrees for the season – instead of 40 and more now.
The heatwave is also expected to end in other parts of Greece on Thursday. However, the danger of fire is still very high in many places. Other fires have already broken out. Several fires broke out over the weekend in the Peloponnese peninsula and on the resort island of Corfu, which could reach dangerous proportions due to winds on Monday, local journalists reported. (SDA)