Race Against Flames: Corfu Commences Sea Evacuations Amidst Wildfires

Race Against Flames: Corfu Commences Sea Evacuations Amidst Wildfires


Wildfires have unleashed havoc on the idyllic island of Corfu, forcing the evacuation of numerous individuals as the flames continue to spread. Following a massive rescue operation that saved over 19,000 holidaymakers from Rhodes, Corfu became the second Greek island to grapple with major evacuations due to the devastating wildfires.

Authorities sprang into action on Sunday night, commencing the evacuation of people from Nissaki beach as the fires posed an imminent threat. The Greek Coast Guard utilized social media to coordinate efforts, ensuring the successful rescue of 59 people from the beach, and their safe transfer to the port of Corfu.

As the fires intensified, the urgency of the situation prompted the relocation of over 600 holidaymakers from hotels on Corfu to the municipal theatre at Corfu Port. Thankfully, Greek media confirmed that all evacuees were unharmed.

The wildfire crisis prompted evacuation advisories for residents and tourists in at least 17 areas of the island, including popular destinations frequented by British travelers. People in Santa, Megoula, Porta, Palia Perithia, Sinies, Viglatouri, Nisaki, Rou, Katavolo, Kentroma, Tritsi, Kokokila, Sarakiniatika, Plagia, Kalami, Vlachatika, and Kavalerena were urgently instructed to relocate to safer areas.

The intensity of the situation on Corfu mirrored the devastation experienced on Rhodes, where the Greek Ministry of Climate Change and Civil Protection executed the largest wildfire evacuation in the country’s history. Frightened families were forced to flee, leaving their belongings behind, as the fierce flames threatened their homes and livelihoods. Thousands sought refuge in schools and shelters, desperately seeking safety from the encroaching inferno. Adding to the hardship, southern Europe endured a prolonged heatwave, with temperatures in Greece forecasted to exceed a scorching 40°C in the days ahead.

The immense evacuation efforts required a comprehensive response, with coastguard vessels and private boats joining forces to rescue over 3,000 tourists from the beaches of Rhodes. Furthermore, approximately 16,000 individuals were evacuated by land, underscoring the magnitude of the crisis response.

To repatriate British holidaymakers stranded on Rhodes, easyJet acted swiftly, scheduling multiple rescue flights alongside their regular services. However, some airlines, like Tui and Jet2 Holidays, made the decision to suspend their flights, drawing criticism from affected consumers.

In a commendable move, the UK government swiftly deployed a Rapid Deployment Team, comprising personnel from the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, as well as British Red Cross responders. The team’s mission was to provide much-needed assistance to travelers at Rhodes International Airport, aiding with travel documents and liaising with Greek authorities and travel operators on-site.

With the situation remaining precarious, easyJet demonstrated its commitment to customers by offering flexibility to those with bookings until Saturday, allowing them to change their travel dates without incurring penalties. As the wildfires continued to rage, authorities worked tirelessly to control and contain the fires, prioritizing the safety of residents, tourists, and the island’s invaluable natural treasures.

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