Emergency Evacuations in Corfu as Wildfires Engulf Second Greek Island
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Emergency Evacuations in Corfu as Wildfires Engulf Second Greek Island


Devastating wildfires on the picturesque island of Corfu have triggered urgent evacuations as the flames continue to spread unabated. Corfu now stands as the second Greek island grappling with a major evacuation effort, following the heroic rescue of over 19,000 holidaymakers from Rhodes over the weekend.

The urgency of the situation prompted authorities to swing into action on Sunday night, initiating the evacuation of people stranded on Nissaki beach. Through social media, the Greek Coast Guard communicated their rescue operation, successfully saving 59 individuals from the beach and ferrying them to safety at the port of Corfu.

As the wildfires gained momentum, more than 600 holidaymakers were urgently relocated from various hotels to the municipal theatre at Corfu Port, according to Greek media reports. Thankfully, no casualties were reported among the evacuees.

The wildfire crisis also triggered mass evacuation advisories for residents and tourists in at least 17 areas of the island, including popular destinations frequented by British tourists. Urgent directives were issued for people in Santa, Megoula, Porta, Palia Perithia, Sinies, Viglatouri, Nisaki, Rou, Katavolo, Kentroma, Tritsi, Kokokila, Sarakiniatika, Plagia, Kalami, Vlachatika, and Kavalerena to immediately relocate to safer regions.

The unfolding catastrophe on Corfu bore a striking resemblance to the devastation experienced on Rhodes, where the Greek Ministry of Climate Change and Civil Protection orchestrated the largest wildfire evacuation in the nation’s history. As the menacing flames approached, panic-stricken families were forced to flee their homes, leaving behind their possessions. Over the weekend, thousands sought refuge in schools and shelters, desperate to escape the wrath of the unrelenting wildfires. Adding to the crisis, a prolonged heatwave engulfed southern Europe, with temperatures soaring above 40°C in Greece, further exacerbating the situation.

The scale of the evacuation required a concerted response, with coastguard vessels and private boats springing into action to rescue over 3,000 tourists from Rhodes’ beaches. Additionally, around 16,000 people were evacuated by land, underscoring the enormity of the rescue mission.

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 proactive measure, the UK government deployed a Rapid Deployment Team, consisting of personnel from the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, along with British Red Cross responders. The team’s primary mission was to offer crucial support to travelers at Rhodes International Airport, assisting with travel documents and coordinating with Greek authorities and travel operators on the ground.

As the wildfires continued to ravage the affected regions, easyJet demonstrated its commitment to customers by offering flexibility to those with bookings until Saturday, enabling them to change their travel dates without incurring penalties. Authorities continued to battle the relentless fires, prioritizing the safety of residents, tourists, and the island’s natural beauty.

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