thousands of evacuees on the islands of Corfu and Euboea due to large forest fires

Firefighters and civilians face plumes of smoke as wildfires burn, in the northern part of the Greek island of Corfu, on July 24, 2023.

In the midst of high temperatures, forest fires do not let up in Greece. Nearly 2,500 people, in 18 locations, received the evacuation order due to the spread of the flames in the north of the island of Corfu. Another seven towns had to be evacuated by the forest fire on the island of Euboea, while firefighters continue to fight for the seventh consecutive day against the flames on the island of Rhodes.

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Greece is affected by one of the longest heat waves in recent decades. On Sunday, some areas of the country reached up to 46 degrees Celsius and in the midst of this scenario the nation is fighting against forest fires in various regions.

The fire in the north of the island of Corfu, in the Ionian Sea, in the northeast of the country and very frequented by tourists, forced the “preventive evacuation of 2,466 people” during Sunday night, spokesman Yannis Artopios reported on Monday, July 24. So far the flames have not destroyed homes or hotels, the spokesperson said.

The authorities warned, through an alert message to the mobile phones of the inhabitants and visitors in numerous towns, that they leave “as a precaution their (place of) residence,” Artopios explained.

The fire was confirmed on Sunday and continues to burn in a forest, where on Monday “62 firefighters supported by two helicopters and two water bombers” were fighting the flames, the fire service said.

In Rhodes, in the southeast of the nation, more than 266 firefighters are working to contain the fire in the south and west of that island in the Canadian archipelago of the Aegean Sea, where 30,000 tourists were evacuated over the weekend in “the largest operation” of this type “ever carried out in Greece”.

Hundreds of tourists, mainly British, German and French, waited Sunday night at Rhodes international airport for a flight home, as several airlines suspended their trips to the island.

At dawn this Monday, two helicopters and two water bombers resumed their operations to support the firefighters on this island, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece, which frequently suffers from raging fires.

“Walking Without Rest”

Kelly Squirrel, a British tourist, indicated that the Police ordered the evacuation of the Rhodes hotel where she was staying.

“We had to walk without rest. We walked for about six hours in the heat,” he said after arriving at the Rhodes international airport.

Another visitor, Kevin Sales, described a “terrible” situation. “We had to lend a woman clothes because she had nothing to wear,” the English engineer told AFP.

Firefighters and civilians face plumes of smoke as wildfires burn, in the northern part of the Greek island of Corfu, on July 24, 2023. © Konontarinis Giorg/Eurokinissi/AFP

Other sources of fire are still active in Aegius, north of the Peloponnese, in Caristo, south of the island of Euboea, and in Boeotia, a region north of Athens.

Many regions of the nation remain on “red alert.” That is to say, in “extreme danger” of forest fires, declared a person in charge of the press office of the fire service.

However, in the last hours, Greece registered a slight decrease in temperature before a new heat wave that is expected from Tuesday, July 25, according to the National Meteorological Service.

The entity forecasts that the temperature will drop to 37 °C in Athens, although in the Peloponnese the thermometer will rise to 42 °C.

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