July 22 () –
Some 2,000 people have been evacuated by sea from two beaches on the island of Rhodes due to uncontrolled fires raging on the island, the Greek Fire Service reported on Saturday.
Three Coast Guard ships, a Navy ship, military inflatable boats and 30 private boats, including tourist boats, have been used in the evacuation, which has taken place “without incident”, said a spokesman for the Fire Department, Yannis Artopios, quoted by the newspaper ‘Kathimerini’.
The Blue Star company has also offered one of its ferries to transport part of the evacuees, Artopios explained. “less than 10 percent of the island’s tourists” have been affected by the forced evacuation, he stressed.
“These are tragic moments. The destruction is unimaginable,” said the governor of South Aegean, Giorgios Hatzimarkos, in a statement on Skai public television. “Our goal is human lives,” he stressed.
The most affected area is that of Laerma, where the turn of strong winds has been the reason for the evacuation orders for this tourist area. However, the tourist facilities themselves do not seem to be in danger at the moment.
The fires have ravaged the island for five days and are uncontrolled on two of the four fronts, according to the latest official estimate.
The inhabitants who remain on the island are in most cases without electricity because the power station in the south of Rhodes has been disconnected for safety.
In the fight against the flames, 205 Greek firefighters are working on the ground with 39 vehicles and with the support of aerial means. 31 Slovak firefighters with five vehicles have also been deployed to collaborate in the extinction work.
The Greek Ministry of Civil Protection has issued a high fire risk alert for seven of the country’s thirteen regions: Attica, Central Greece, the Peloponnese, Western Greece, Thessaly, South Aegean and North Aegean.