Rhodes: Tourists Scramble To Evacuate Following Wildfires

Hundreds of holidaymakers are returning to the UK on emergency flights from Rhodes amid ongoing wildfires on the Greek island.

An estimated 10,000 UK citizens are currently vacationing on the island, with return flights taking place throughout the week.

Both EasyJet and Tui have halted outgoing vacation packages to Rhodes till Saturday and Friday.

Holidaymakers have been compelled to evacuate their accommodations and sleep outdoors due to encroaching fires on the eastern coast resorts.

Several homes and businesses owned by the local populace have been ravaged by the fires.

In response, tour operators and airlines have organized emergency return flights for the past few days, given vacationers were left with no other option but to abandon their lodgings and take shelter in schools, airports, and sports centres.

Arriving back in the UK, travellers have been touching down at various airports including Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham and Bristol.

On Sunday, Tui managed three emergency flights, followed by a fourth and fifth on Monday and Tuesday morning respectively, transporting people from Rhodes back to the UK.

EasyJet confirmed it operated two flights with a capacity of 421 seats on Monday, with a third scheduled for Tuesday, in addition to nine prearranged flights to the island.

Jet2 has arranged four emergency flights for Monday night following one that landed at Leeds Bradford Airport the previous Sunday evening.

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has recommended people maintain communication with their tour operators or hotels if their travel plans include regions affected by wildfires.

The PM’s official spokesperson stated: “British nationals in Rhodes should reach out to their travel operator initially for any enquiries about flight rescheduling, and regularly review our updated travel advice for information.”

Although the Foreign Office hasn’t discouraged travel to Rhodes, it did disclose that six of its personnel and four members of the British Red Cross were dispatched to Rhodes International Airport to assist Greek authorities and travel companies.

Emma Brennan of the Association of British Travel Agents – the industry’s trade body, advised anyone intending to travel to Rhodes soon to liaise with their travel agency to confirm the status of their flights.

“There are airlines still running flights, so if your booking is with one of them, your holiday might still proceed,” she informed BBC Breakfast.

She mentioned that Rhodes is a large island, and some parts of it are “still fully functioning and people are still able to travel and enjoy a holiday there”.

Ms. Brennan further encouraged anyone currently at an evacuation centre to contact their travel agent.

Recently, temperatures across Greece have exceeded 40C (104F), causing fires to rage in some areas for almost a week.

Rhodes has been affected by wildfires for a week due to strong winds, leading to nearly 19,000 people being evacuated.

In a separate incident, about 2,500 individuals were evacuated from Corfu, approximately 1,027km (670 miles) distant, a fire department spokesperson informed AFP news agency.

While the cause of these fires is undetermined, the high temperatures, dry conditions, and potent winds across Greece have exacerbated their spread.