30,000 tourists flee the flames

In the fight against the fire that has been going on for days on the Greek holiday island of Rhodes, the emergency services fear that strong winds will fan the flames and thus hinder the extinguishing work. The wind is expected to pick up between midday and late afternoon, said fire department spokesman Vassilis Vathrakoyiannis. Authorities warned that efforts to contain the fire would take several days. According to official information, around 30,000 people were brought to safety from the flames on Saturday.

Rhodes is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece, and many Germans also travel to the island. The Federal Foreign Office informed the AFP news agency that a team from the German Embassy in Athens and the German Honorary Consul were on site to “consularly support affected German nationals if necessary”. The Foreign Ministry is “in close contact with the Greek authorities and tour operators on the forest fires and the situation on Rhodes”.

20,000 Germans are currently on Rhodes

According to the authorities, more than 2,000 people were picked up from the beaches by ship during the evacuation operation on Saturday, and buses were also used for the evacuations. The police spoke of the “biggest evacuation of all time” because of a fire in Greece. 20,000 Germans are said to be staying on Rhodes.

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According to the broadcaster ERT and the Greek news agency ANA, the flames reached the village of Laerma on Sunday night. Houses and a church burned down, and many hotels were also damaged. The fire also spread to the coastal towns of Kiotari and Gennadi Lardos.

The major fire on Rhodes raged on Sunday for the sixth day in a row. He erupted on a mountain in the center of the island. Numerous forest fires are also currently raging in other regions of Greece. According to the fire department, 46 new fires broke out within 24 hours.

Many Greeks continue to be affected by an extreme heat wave. As the Meteorological Office announced, values ​​of up to 45 degrees Celsius are expected in the south of the country on Sunday. In the central Greek city of Larisa, the thermometer showed 44 degrees early Saturday afternoon. Two villages and several hotels on the holiday island of Rhodes had to be evacuated.

Greece: Meteorologist warns of the longest heat wave

In northern Greece, too, there were values ​​around 40 degrees in many places. Even most of the Aegean islands have temperatures above 38 degrees. One of the leading Greek meteorologists, Konstantinos Lagouvardos, estimated on state television that “if things continue like this”, this heat wave could become the longest since measurements have been taken in Greece. In July 1987, a similar heat wave in Greece killed an estimated 1,300 people.

The fire brigade again warned of the great danger of forest fires. “We have even more difficult times ahead of us,” said a spokesman for state television. The fires in the Athens area and on the Peloponnese peninsula have been brought under control. But they flare up again and again because everything has dried up, they said.

International support for the extinguishing work

Meanwhile, hundreds of firefighters from Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Slovakia and Malta have arrived in Greece to reinforce the fire brigade and are battling the flames. France, Italy, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel and Jordan are taking part in the extinguishing work with fire-fighting aircraft and helicopters, the Greek civil defense announced.

The Italian meteorologists are also expecting a new heat wave at the beginning of next week. Then between Sardinia and Sicily peak temperatures of 47 to 48 degrees are possible, wrote the weather service Ilmeteo.it. The weather service of the Italian Air Force registered 40 degrees from Palermo, the capital of Sicily, early Saturday afternoon. In Rome it was 37 degrees. 41.8 degrees had already been measured there last Tuesday.

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