Fires are still burning in Greece as the heatwave continues on the continent.
The blazes across the country have been supercharged by strong winds and temperatures exceeding 40°C.
Wildfires are frequent in Greece during the summer and the fire brigade said more that 500 wildfires have burned in the country so far this year.
Where are the fires?
Firefighters in Greece battled flames burning for the 10th day on the island of Rhodes, while new blazes erupted on the mainland that destroyed farms and factories overnight and left farmers rushing to evacuate their animals.
The fires in Rhodes started in the mountains in the centre of island, where a number of people were evacuated last week. Since then, flames and smoke have spread south and eastwards towards the major tourist hub of Lindos along with Lardos, Kiotari, Gennadi, Pefki and Kalathos.
Fires in Rhodes are beginning to abate, however.
In Corfu, people in the areas of Santa, Megoula, Porta, Palia Perithia and Sinies have been told to move to Kasiopi – while those in Rou, Katavolo, Kentroma, Tritsi, Kokokila, Sarakiniatika, Plagia, Kalami, Vlachatika and Kavalerena have been advised to relocate to Ipsos.
There are other fire warnings in place across the country, including in the region of Attica, close to Athens, and on the island of Evia.
New fires have also erupted, however, killing a further two people in central Greece on Wednesday, taking the death toll from the fires to five.
Officials have also now ordered the evacuation of several communities in the hard-hit area of Magnesia, a coastal area north of Athens.
The body of a 45-year old shepherd was found in a rural area on Wednesday evening, the fire brigade said. Earlier, authorities had found the body of a woman, state TV ERT said. Both deaths were attributed to the fires.
In Sesklo, a village near the coastal port city of Volos, the regional capital, the charred remains of a cow could be seen on a farm as locals coached away other cattle.
“It started from the grass on various fronts in the area and we got to this situation from the lack of public authority, of regional governors, mayors, to burn half of Magnesia,” farmer Kostas Koukouvinos said.
Late on Wednesday flames threatened the industrial zone of the city of Volos. Firefighters circled the area as they tried to protect it, a Reuters witness said.
The labour ministry urged employers in the area to suspend operations on Thursday.
A separate wildfire flared near the city of Lamia, south of Volos. Residents of several settlements were told to leave their homes.
Firefighters were also tackling a new blaze near the town of Kymi on the island of Evia, where two pilots were killed on Tuesday when their plane crashed into a hillside as it was dropping water onto the flames.
The risk of fire remained “extreme” for several areas of Greece on Thursday, the fire brigade said.
Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Minister Vassilis Kikilias said Greece was experiencing “very dangerous summer days.” The fires, he said, were fanned by strong winds and worsened by abnormally high temperatures, kindling fronts stretching for several kilometres.
“Given the climate crisis, we will again have extreme weather conditions that will again test our strength. Nothing is over, the battle will continue throughout the summer,” he said.
Can I travel to Greece?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office says: “Extreme temperatures are affecting many areas of Greece. There are active wildfires across Greece, including in populated areas on the mainland and a number of islands.
“Wildfires are highly dangerous and unpredictable. The situation can change quickly. Follow “112 Greece” on Twitter for official updates.
“Read the NHS advice on coping in hot weather.
“If you are travelling to an area affected by wildfires – If you are due to travel to an area that might be affected by wildfires, contact your travel operator or accommodation provider before you travel to check that it is not currently impacted. Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
“If you are in or near areas affected by wildfires – Be cautious if you are in or near an area affected by wildfires. You should:
- Follow the guidance of the emergency services;
- Call the Greek Emergency Services on 112 if you are in immediate danger;
- Contact your airline or travel operator who can assist you with return travel to the UK;
- Dnable the “Emergency Alerts” option to receive the Greek government’s emergency alerts. For:
- iPhones go to Settings > Notification. Enable the “Emergency Alerts” option at the bottom;
- Android 11 and higher go to Settings > Notifications > Advanced Settings > Wireless Emergency Alerts;
- Samsung Devices go to Settings > Apps > Messages > Notifications > Emergency Notifications. Enable the “Emergency Alerts” option.
- Read the Greek Government’s protection guidelines in the event of a forest fire;
- Register via the Greek government’s Emergency Communication Service (in Greek).
The Greek government has set up a Crisis Management Unit to facilitate the evacuation of foreign visitors from Rhodes due to the ongoing forest fires. Contact them for advice on:
- +30 210 368 1730
- +30 210 368 1259
- +30 210 368 1350
“If you need consular assistance – If you are a British national and need consular assistance, call our 24-hour helpline on +44 20 7008 5000.”
What if I have a holiday booked?
That depends on how you booked your holiday.
Tui had carried out five repatriation flights by Wednesday morning and has cancelled all flights to Rhodes up to and including Friday, with holidays scrapped for those going to affected hotels before and on August 11.
Passengers due to travel up to and including Sunday for all areas of Rhodes will be offered a fee-free amend to another holiday or the option to cancel for a full refund. Flights from Rhodes back to the UK & Ireland are being operated as scheduled.
Jet2 said it had cancelled all flights and holidays to Rhodes until Sunday and around 1,000 Britons in affected areas have either flown home or moved to hotels in unaffected parts of the island. It said it would make a decision on what happens beyond Sunday in the coming days.
Thomas Cook said holidaymakers who “choose to do so” continue to arrive in other parts of the island, and the firm has issued refunds for all customers who had booked to stay in Kiotari and Lardos on Rhodes’s south-east coast up to and including Monday.
It added that if those customers no longer wish to travel to Rhodes they can amend their holiday to a different destination or departure date or receive a full refund.