Inferno in holiday paradise: Fierce forest fires on Rhodes: Almost 20,000 people evacuated, wind fanned the fire again

After the evacuation of many villages and hotel complexes due to large forest fires, thousands of people on the Greek holiday island of Rhodes spent the night from Saturday to Sunday outdoors.

Inferno in holiday paradise: Fierce forest fires on Rhodes: Almost 20,000 people evacuated, wind fanned the fire again

After the evacuation of many villages and hotel complexes due to large forest fires, thousands of people on the Greek holiday island of Rhodes spent the night from Saturday to Sunday outdoors. According to the Greek government, 19,000 people were taken to safety - many of them in the north of the island, according to the office of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. It is "the largest evacuation operation that has ever taken place in Greece". The authorities had initially spoken of up to 30,000 evacuees.

The Tui travel group announced on Sunday afternoon that it would no longer fly tourists to Rhodes in view of the severe forest fires. The flight connections remained in place to fly guests back to Germany, said Aage Dünhaupt, Head of Communications at Tui Germany, the dpa. In addition, many travelers could cancel their flight. Guests who have booked to Rhodes by next Friday can cancel free of charge or rebook to another holiday destination. The Tui Group currently has a total of around 39,000 guests on Rhodes, said Dünhaupt, 7,800 of them were affected by the fire and evacuated.

Television images showed tourists sleeping on mattresses in gyms on Sunday night. There was a great wave of willingness to help among the residents of Rhodes: Many took tourists into their private accommodations, provided food, water, bed linen and mattresses.

According to initial police estimates, around 16,000 people have been brought to safety by land and 3,000 people from beaches by sea since Saturday. Meanwhile, despite the overwhelming problems and ongoing fires, new holiday planes landed over the course of Sunday, as the vice mayor of the island of Thanasis Virinis told the TV station Mega on Sunday morning.

"There have never been so many villages affected," said a German who has lived on the island for years, the German Press Agency on Saturday evening. "Otherwise it burns towards the west coast. But this time the fire came over the mountain to the southeast." In her village of Lachania, everyone is on their feet and waiting for their village to be evacuated. The power went out hours ago, and she's sitting in the dark. "I packed the most important things in the car, water, food for my dog. But I'm waiting for the authorities' instructions, it doesn't help to drive somewhere headless."

Germans were also affected by the evacuations of the hotels. "There are currently around 20,000 German vacationers from tour operators on the island, only a small number are affected by the evacuations," a spokeswoman for the German Travel Association (DRV) told dpa on Saturday evening. "For the evacuees, collection points are planned in the north of the island until the fires are extinguished. The top priority is to protect life and limb." According to the DRV, tour operators want to contact their customers who are planning a trip to Rhodes in the next few days. You would then be informed whether the trip could take place.

Because of the forest fire on Rhodes, but also other major fires in Greece, hundreds of firefighters from Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia and Malta have now arrived to reinforce. France, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel and Jordan are taking part in the extinguishing work with firefighting planes and helicopters, the Greek civil defense announced.

According to the meteorologists, the heat wave that has been raging in Greece since Friday will continue with small fluctuations in the coming week. A new high is expected on Wednesday with temperatures around 46 degrees in southern Greece. The fire brigade again warned of the great danger of forest fires. "We have even more difficult times ahead of us," said a spokesman.

In the course of global warming, the risk of forest fires is increasing in many regions, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has established. A warmer climate can contribute to more water falling from the sky, also more often in the form of heavy rain. However, the periods without precipitation are becoming longer in some cases. And especially in areas that are already dry, the danger of periods of drought increases. Forest fires can spread faster in extremely dry vegetation.

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