Athens, July 24 (EFE).- The wildfire on the Greek island of Rhodes, which has already caused the evacuation of 19,000 people, was still out of control on Monday for the seventh consecutive day, with populated areas again under threat as more evacuations were ordered.
Some 270 firefighters with 55 vehicles, eight aircraft and ten helicopter tankers continue to fight the flames on three fronts that threaten populated areas in the center, the east coast and south of the island.
The large forest fire has already burned more than 14,000 hectares of forest, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).
Hundreds of volunteers and troops are working to prevent the flames from reaching the towns of Malonas and Kalathos, which were evacuated Monday afternoon.
Over the weekend some 19,000 people, including 7,000 tourists, were evacuated and moved to safe locations in Rhodes, the largest evacuation operation in Greece’s history, firefighters reported.
Thousands of tourists remain stranded on the island, staying in sports halls, municipal centers and hotels, while many are stranded at Rhodes airport.
The low-cost airline easyJet said it will begin repatriating British tourists on Monday. According to the British government, there are between 7,000 and 10,000 British tourists on Rhodes at the moment, although not all are in the affected areas.
The Czech government announced that it had already repatriated some 450 of its citizens on three flights.
Meanwhile, the German travel agency TUI, announced Monday that it will send six empty charter flights to the island to repatriate British and Germans, local media report.
WAR AGAINST FIRE
“We are in a war against the fires”, Greek Prime Minister, the conservative Kyriakos Mitsotakis, told parliament Monday, warning that “no measure will be enough” to face nature’s “fury”.
Although those of Rhodes and those of another island, Euboea, are the most dangerous fires, 63 fires are active across the country, firefighters reported.
The fire risk remains extremely high, particularly in the Athens region, the Peloponnese peninsula and many Aegean islands.
On the island of Euboea, northeast of Athens, another fire is out of control around the coastal village of Caristo and one person, a livestock farmer, is missing.
The flames forced the evacuation of nine localities and reached the villages of Platanistós and Potami, where several houses have been burned, according to regional authorities.
More than 100 firefighters with 32 vehicles, three airplanes and two helicopter tankers are struggling to contain the flames, while firefighting operations were being hampered by strong winds.
Greece has been experiencing an extreme heat wave for days and on Sunday thermometers reached 46.4C in the Peloponnese town of Gythion, the highest temperature ever recorded in the country.
The extreme heat will continue until Thursday, when a significant drop in temperature (between 5 and 7 degrees) is expected, according to the National Meteorological Service.EFE