Wildfire on Greek island of Rhodes forces mass evacuations | Wildlife News

A wildfire which has been raging on the Greek island of Rhodes for five days forced hundreds of people to flee affected villages and beaches by land and sea on Saturday, authorities said.

Coastguard vessels and more than 30 private boats evacuated at least 2,000 people, including tourists, from beaches close to the areas of Kiotari and Lardos in the southeastern part of the island, coastguard spokesman Nikos Alexiou told Skai television.

He said an operation was ongoing to evacuate about 600 people from beaches in Kiotari and Gennadi towards Plimmiri.

Authorities have also urged about 1,000 people to leave the villages of Pefki, Lindos and Kalathos as flames approached, fire brigade spokesperson Vassilis Vathrakogiannis said.

Those evacuated are being housed at an indoor stadium and at hotels on the island, Taraslias said. Three passenger ferries will also host tourists during the night, the coastguard said.

The fire has scorched swaths of dense forest since breaking out in a mountainous area on Tuesday. It damaged at least three hotels in the seaside village of Kiotari on Saturday, according to the Athens News Agency.

Civil protection authorities have warned of a very high risk of wildfires on Rhodes and many other areas in Greece on Sunday, as temperatures were expected to hit 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) amid a heatwave.

Senior government officials will travel to Rhodes to assist in the situation. The Greek foreign ministry activated its crisis management unit to offer assistance to foreigners who want to leave the country, it said on Saturday.

Fires are common in Greece but hotter, drier and windy summers have turned the country into a wildfire hotspot in recent years. Meteorologists have warned that the current sweltering temperatures are expected to last until the end of the month.

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