Polish tourists evacuated from areas threatened by wildfires on Rhodes


Most of the Polish tourists have been evacuated from the parts of the Greek island of Rhodes threatened by fires, Polish deputy foreign minister has said.

Wildfires caused by the current heatwave, have been raging on Rhodes for five days forcing hundreds of people to flee affected villages and beaches, Greek authorities said and warned of a very high risk of further fires on Rhodes and elsewhere in Greece, with temperatures of 45 degrees Celsius expected.

Pawel Jablonski, a deputy foreign minister, told PAP on Sunday that evacuations of Polish tourists "are underway."

"Most of the citizens who are in the fire hazard zone - because it is not the entire island, but part of it - have already been evacuated by travel agencies. Our honorary consul is on the island, she took some of these people to her hotel. It (the evacuation - PAP) continued throughout the night," he said.

Jablonski added that the estimated number of tourists from Poland in the area at risk of fires is about 1,200 people. "We have contact with the vast majority through travel agencies," he said.

"There is still a group that is waiting for evacuation... There are coaches on site all the time, mainly in Lindos, from where people are transported to safe places, boats are being provided on the beach. Some people have also tried to move to a safe place on their own - so I cannot give specific numbers at this point," he said.

On Sunday morning, Greek fire brigade spokesman Wassilis Warthakogiannis said the fire on the island of Rhodes had spread to the so-called tourist zone when the wind direction changed by 180 degrees. "This is not a fire that will end tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. It will burn for many days," said Warthakogiannis, quoted by the AFP agency.

Meteorologists warn that the current heatwave in Greece is set to continue until the end of the month.

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