Amidst a relentless wildfire crisis, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has declared Greece to be at war with the raging infernos, prompting the evacuation of thousands of people from the picturesque islands of Rhodes and Corfu.
On Rhodes, a highly sought-after holiday destination, the flames have continued to ravage the island unabated for seven consecutive days, resulting in the displacement of hundreds of residents and tourists from their homes and hotels, as confirmed by a spokesperson from the fire brigade.
In a monumental effort to ensure safety, 19,000 people, predominantly tourists, were urgently transported via buses and boats over the weekend, away from the path of the encroaching fire, which had spread from the nearby mountains to several coastal areas. This evacuation operation represents the largest in the country in recent years.
Not to be spared from the wildfire’s reach, the western Ionian island of Corfu also faced the need for precautionary measures, leading to the relocation of approximately 2,400 visitors and locals from Sunday into Monday. Reports of evacuations were also received from the island of Evia and a mountainous region in the southern Peloponnese area.
As the situation continues to unfold, authorities are diligently working to safeguard lives and control the wildfire’s devastating impact on these cherished Greek islands.
“For the next few weeks, we must be on constant alert. We are at war,” the Greek prime minister told parliament. “We will rebuild what we lost, we will compensate those who were hurt… The climate crisis is already here. It will manifest itself everywhere in the Mediterranean with greater disasters,” he said.
He warned that the nation faced “another three difficult days ahead” before high temperatures are forecast to ease.
Assistance from the European Union and various other sources has been pouring in as firefighting operations intensify. Neighbouring Turkey dispatched firefighting planes to Rhodes, augmenting the existing fleet of 10 water-dropping planes and 10 helicopters that valiantly battled towering flames reaching heights of up to 5 meters (16 feet), all while facing challenging low visibility conditions.
However, amidst the efforts to contain the wildfires, tragedy struck in the northern Monza and Brescia provinces, where two women lost their lives on Monday and Tuesday. They were tragically killed after being struck by falling trees, underscoring the perilous nature of the situation and the importance of ongoing safety measures during the firefighting operations.