An unprecedented heat wave is causing many fires in Greece. In Rhodes, five helicopters and 173 firefighters are battling the blaze. Tourists had to be evacuated.
About 2,000 people were evacuated by boat from the Greek island of Rhodes, which has been ravaged by wildfires for five days, as Greece lives through “probably” the longest heat wave in its history, an event that continues to see temperatures rise in the US South.
In Greece, all archaeological sites are closed during the hottest times, such as the famous Acropolis in Athens, where temperatures are expected to exceed 44°C over the weekend.
30,000 people have taken refuge
In the heavily touristed area of Rhodes, a wildfire raged for five days in the east of the island around Lermon and Lardos, about 2,000 people were evacuated by boat, and 30,000 stayed overnight in gymnasiums, schools or conference centers. “This is an unprecedented situation,” Panagiotis Dimelis, head of the Archangelos village council, told Skai TV.
In the evening, firefighters’ spokesman Yannis Artobios told the ERT TV channel that new evacuation measures were aimed at the seaside resorts of Genadi and Kyotari. A boat owner explained on Skai TV, “We were ordered by the port authorities to return to Gennadi for further evacuation. There are a lot of people on the beach, more than 500 people”.
When the warning was given in the afternoon, many tourists with suitcases and children left the furnace on the beach. Some people missed their return flights as roads were cut off by flames, according to posts on social media.
In the interior of the island, the fire reached the village of Lerma, destroying houses and a church, ERT TV channel and Greek agency ANA reported. “We are likely to experience a heat wave of 16-17 days, which is unprecedented in our country,” Kostas Lagovartos, research director at the Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development at the National Laboratory in Athens, told ERT television.
“We need complete vigilance (…) because the difficult times are not over yet,” warned Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
“We are facing a new heat wave” and “possible strengthening of winds” that have already fueled several fires around the capital since Monday, he added. Firefighters reported 46 new fires in the country in 24 hours. At the surface of the ocean, the mercury was 2 to 3 degrees Celsius above normal, the Meteorological Department reported on Saturday.
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