May 18, 2024
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By Helena Smith 
KyriakosMitsotakis warns the Greek Parliament that tough times are ahead as fires continue to rage in Evia, Corfu and other islands.

Greece has declared war against fire during Rhodes’s chaotic evacuation.

Kyriakos Mistiakos warns the Greek Parliament that tough times lie ahead, as fires spread on Evia and Corfu Islands.

Firefighters struggled in Greece to put out wildfires for the seventh consecutive day despite the scenes of panic caused by what was probably Greece’s biggest ever tourist evacuation on the island of Rhodes.

The water dropping planes helped fight many fires all day long. Kyriakos mitsotakis stated that Greece was at war with fire. However, efforts were concentrated on putting out fires in Evia, Corfu and Rhodes.

According to the leader from the centre-right, as long as conditions are difficult, the battle will be unlevel.

The warning was for “three challenging days” ahead.

The authorities forced people out of their homes and hotels as infernoes were whipped by the wind across parched ground.

Overnight 2,466 people fled from 17 villages in Corfu, a popular area for villa-owners, including Britons. Hundreds of residents also fled Evia.

Infernos in resort areas south-east Rhodes caused a massive evacuation of 19,000 mostly tourists.

During the past weekend, many tourists reported being taken to the beach in the middle night in army trucks before being put on Greek Navy ships in an anxious state.

The majority of people complained that they were treated poorly by “invisible tour operators” who they paid thousands of dollars to for a five-star hotel stay.

Even as late Saturday night when the uncontrollable fires took over large areas of the island it was evident that other British tourists were being flown into the country by tour companies.

Greece recorded its highest temperatures for 50 years over the weekend. Hot, dry and windy weather conditions can be like “superfood” to fires.

The wildfire season is now extended globally by around two weeks, which has led to larger areas of burn in Southern Europe.

Athens officials in charge of civil protection said there was no choice but to carry out a precautionary operation, which they called “precautionary”, to get tourists to leave Rhodes. This is due to the strong and unpredictable winds.

Mitsotakis reminded the MPs of Monday: “Our first priority is human life.” He was referring to the tragedy that occurred five years ago when fires ravaged Mati on the coast east of Athens and killed 102. “Organizing evacuations” has become second-nature since Mati.

Experts from the government will travel to Rhodes, and to other regions affected by the fires to determine the full extent of this disaster. This is likely to cost a lot so compensation payments can be made. The fires destroyed thousands of homes, business and agricultural plots.

At this time, Greece is focused on reviving its image as a popular tourist destination.

British tourists are now the largest group of tourists in Greece. The majority of people evacuated from Rhodes hotels were British.

Olga Kefalogianni said that tourism is responsible for 25% of the GDP in the country and 1 in 5 jobs. She also claimed on Monday, despite fires breaking out on Corfu the situation wasn’t alarming. On Rhodes the damage was limited to a “small area.”

Greek army transport aircraft worked throughout the night to ensure that camp beds and sleeping bags, as well as other important supplies were delivered to Rhodes on Sunday evening.

Over the weekend there were thousands of homeless people on the island, sleeping in airports or makeshift shelters including schools and meeting halls.

They hope what they bring in makes their lives a little bit easier when they return to home.

Locals have offered their homes as a place to stay to stranded tourists on Rhodes.

Greek government officials said that as of Monday 6 am, 1,489 British and German tourists were returned to their home countries. The departures also eased the airport chaos.

Jet2 will be adding four more flights on Monday to help transport Britons.

International firefighting teams have been dispatched to Greece to put out fires.

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