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Rhodes Wildfires: Tourists Struggle for Safety as Greek Authorities Launch Rescue Operations

 
 Parts of the island have been shadowed by ominous amber clouds ( Image: volcaholic1/Twitter)
Parts of the island have been shadowed by ominous amber clouds ( Image: volcaholic1/Twitter)

The picturesque Greek island of Rhodes has been plunged into turmoil as a massive wildfire continues to wreak havoc, forcing thousands of tourists and locals to flee their homes and hotels. Strong winds, soaring temperatures, and dry conditions have contributed to the rapid spread of the blaze, causing panic and uncertainty among visitors seeking safety. Amidst the chaos, Greek authorities, local volunteers, and international assistance have joined forces to provide rescue and support operations to those affected by the disaster.


Immediate Evacuation Centers in Rhodes:

As the wildfire encroached on populated areas, the Greek authorities swiftly issued evacuation orders for several villages and settlements. Gathering places, such as the Archangelos school complex, including the 2nd Primary School, Middle School, and High School, and the Kallithea Indoor Gymnasium, were set up to accommodate evacuees. These centers have provided temporary shelter, food, and medical assistance to those fleeing their homes.


Hotel Accommodations:

In addition to immediate evacuation centers, hotels in safer regions have been designated to house tourists evacuated from affected areas. A total of 3,190 people can be accommodated in various hotels, offering a sense of relief to those displaced by the wildfire. The following table presents the hotels and their respective capacities:


Hotel

Capacity

SHERATION RHODES RESORT

250

VERGINA

400

AMATHUS

70

RHODES PALACE

1500

MEDITERRANEAN

150

PARADISE RESORT-ELA RESORT

300

OLYMPIC PALACE

300

KRESTEN PALACE

150

EDEN ROC

70


Coast Guard Rescue Operations:

The Coast Guard, backed by private boats and vessels, has carried out extensive rescue operations along the beaches of Kiotari and Lardos, evacuating over 2,500 people. Tourists were transported from these beaches to safer locations, ensuring their safety during the fire's spread. The Coast Guard has been instrumental in saving lives and providing reassurance to stranded individuals.


 TUI said their staff are following advice from local authorities ( Image: Glynis Wall)
TUI said their staff are following advice from local authorities ( Image: Glynis Wall)

International Aid:

Recognizing the severity of the situation, several European Union countries have provided assistance in firefighting and rescue efforts. Firefighting forces from different EU countries, including Slovakia, have joined local authorities in combatting the blaze. Furthermore, Israel, Jordan, and Turkey have sent aerial equipment and reinforcements to support the ongoing operations.


Greek Police Involvement:

The Greek Police have been actively involved in firefighting planning and operations. Officers from various police departments, including OEPTA and OPKE police, as well as the DIAS Group, have been deployed to assist in the evacuation of people and ensure their safety. The police have also coordinated efforts with other authorities to optimize rescue missions.


Electricity and Communication Restoration:

The new plant of Public Power Corporation, located in southern Rhodes, has suffered damage due to the fire, leading to power outages in several areas, including the city of Rhodes. However, the authorities are working to restore power as soon as possible, ensuring communication lines are operational to facilitate relief efforts.


 Hundreds of firefighters are tackling the blaze in Rhodes ( Image: DAMIANIDIS LEFTERIS/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Hundreds of firefighters are tackling the blaze in Rhodes ( Image: DAMIANIDIS LEFTERIS/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

As Rhodes continues to grapple with the devastating wildfire, the efforts of Greek authorities, local volunteers, and international support have been crucial in providing safety and assistance to those affected. Evacuation centers, designated hotels, Coast Guard rescue operations, and the involvement of various organizations have played an essential role in ensuring the well-being of tourists and locals alike.


Though the road to recovery may be challenging, the collective response and solidarity demonstrated during this crisis highlight the resilience of the human spirit in times of disaster. Together, the people of Rhodes and their global allies are determined to rebuild this beautiful island and heal from the devastating impact of the wildfires.





 

Facts:

  • Duration of the Wildfire: The wildfire on the Greek island of Rhodes has been burning for five consecutive days, with no signs of abating. The fire initially started in the island's mountainous center but quickly spread to more populated areas, including Kiotari and Lardos.

  • Firefighting Efforts: More than 200 firefighters, supported by 40 fire engines, are actively combating the wildfire on the ground. The firefighting force includes 31 firefighters from Slovakia, who have joined local authorities in their battle against the blaze.

  • Assistance from European Countries: In response to the escalating situation, firefighting forces from eight EU countries, including Slovakia, have been operating or are on their way to provide assistance in fighting the fire and carrying out rescue operations.

  • International Support: Israel, Jordan, and Turkey have also sent reinforcements, primarily aerial equipment, to support the ongoing firefighting and rescue efforts in Rhodes.

  • Evacuation Orders: Greek authorities have issued evacuation orders for several localities, including the villages of Lardos, Pylona, Asklipieio, Gennadi, and Kiotari. Tourists and residents in these areas have been urged to leave their homes and seek safety in designated gathering places and evacuation centers.

  • Accommodating Evacuees: A total of 3,190 people can be accommodated in various hotels across Rhodes, providing temporary shelter and safety to those who have been forced to evacuate from affected areas.

  • Rescue by Sea: The Coast Guard, along with private boats and vessels, has played a significant role in rescuing people from the beaches of Kiotari and Lardos. More than 2,500 people have been rescued so far, ensuring their safe evacuation from the fire's path.

  • Efforts of Greek Police: The Greek Police have actively participated in firefighting planning and operations, deploying officers from various units to assist in the evacuation of people and maintain order during the crisis.

  • Impact on Electricity Supply: The wildfire has caused damage to the new plant of D.E.H., located in southern Rhodes, resulting in periodic power outages in several areas, including the city of Rhodes.

  • Extensive Damage: As the wildfire continues to spread, several hotel units, including Lindian Village, Rhodos Village, and a boutique hotel of the Hatzilazaros Group, were engulfed in flames. Efforts are being made to prevent further damage and protect other hotels in the affected regions.

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