Europe heatwave live: Rhodes fires trigger hotel evacuations

Smoke turns sky dull and hazy as wildfires continue to rage in Greece

Wildfires on the Greek island of Rhodes have forced thousands of tourists to flee their hotels and be evacuated off the beach by a fleet of private boats.

The fires had been burning for days as Rhodes, like many parts of southern Europe, sweltered under a prolonged heatwave.

But while previously they threatened only the mostly uninhabited central parts of the island, on Saturday strong winds pushed the fires towards the coast, forcing at least three resorts and hotels to be evacuated.

The beach rescue involved around 30 private vessels as well as the coastguard and saw more than 2,000 tourists evacuated, an official said. The operation was expected to continue on Sunday.

British tourists have described being caught up in the “terrifying” ordeal, with the Foreign Office directing UK nationals towards a crisis management unit set up by the Greek authorities.

It comes as the heatwave conditions, caused by a high pressure system over southern Europe, eased in France and Spain but were forecast to continue in Italy and the Balkans.


British tourists describe ‘chaos’ amid fires and power cuts on Rhodes

Many Britons are among the thousands of tourists being evacuated due to wildfires in Rhodes, with the Foreign Office updating its guidance for those planning to travel to Greece, as well as those there who are affected.

British holidaymakers described “terrifying” scenes of turmoil as the five-day fire continues to rage, with power cuts causing “chaos” and an absence of information from travel agencies.

Foreign secretary James Cleverly tweeted: “The safety of British Nationals is our top priority.”

More eye witness accounts from British tourists here:

Adam Withnall23 July 2023 07:50


In pictures: Rhodes wildfires

Wildfires have spread from the mountainous centre of Greece’s Rhodes island to threaten hotels and resorts on the coast. Here’s what the evacuation effort – involving thousands of tourists and authorities from several countries – looks like on the ground.

At least 30 private vessels were involved in rescuing tourists from two designated beach evacuation points


Three coastguard boats were leading more than 20 vessels in the emergency evacuation effort

(Eurokinissi/AFP via Getty Images)

Tourists are being evacuated as wildfire burns near Lindos, on the island of Rhodes


Tourists stand on a beach after being evacuated


Adam Withnall23 July 2023 07:30


Tourists describe long walks to reach beach from evacuated Rhodes hotels

Tourists on Rhodes have described how they were forced to walk for hours in the searing heat to try and escape the smoke.

“Currently stranded in Rhodes escaping the wildfires on foot – left everything at the hotel and fled with towels across our faces”, said Paul Kalburgi on Twitter.

“My youngest just told me he doesn’t want to die. Terrifying situation here.”

Another Twitter user, John Hughes, said he “had to walk four miles in the heat across dirt tracks in smoke and ash with a five year old. No possessions”.

Adam Withnall23 July 2023 07:15


Rhodes wildfires spread to east coast from centre

The Rhodes wildfire has been burning for at least five days but until now was confined to the island’s mountainous and sparsely populated centre.

On Saturday, aided by strong winds, high temperatures and dry conditions, it began to spread more widely and threaten the east coast, which is popular with tourists.

Fire Service spokesperson Yannis Artopios said on Saturday afternoon that residents of four localities were sent SMS messages to evacuate – in two places they were told to move to the northeast and in two others to the southwest. The British Embassy in Athens has also told people in Kiotari and Gennadi to evacuate to Plymiri.

Smoke rises from a wildfire on the island of Rhodes, Greece on Saturday


Adam Withnall23 July 2023 07:03


Fleet of small boats rescue Rhodes tourists from beach

Thousands of tourists were evacuated from Rhodes by a fleet of small boats on Saturday as spreading wildfires threatened hotels and resorts.

At least three resorts were ordered to be cleared out and tourists, many Britons among them, had to walk long distances with their luggage to reach the evacuation point.

Coastguard officials said their vessels were joined by some 30 private boats and that at least 2,000 people were evacuated, with the operation set to continue today.

Read more about the dramatic rescue here:

Adam Withnall23 July 2023 07:00


Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live blog on the European heatwave, including wildfires that have triggered evacuations on the island of Rhodes.

Adam Withnall23 July 2023 06:54

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