Rhodes nightmare becomes the largest fire evacuation in Greek history with 19,000 fleeing from villages and hotels as Jet2 and TUI cancel all flights while EasyJet and Ryanair say they are ‘monitoring the situation’
- Jet2 will fly aircraft which are scheduled to go out without any passengers on
- READ MORE: British mothers reveal horrifying escape from the Rhodes wildfires
Holiday firms TUI and Jet2 have cancelled all flights to Rhodes as the popular holiday destination has been gripped by wildfires, forcing thousands of tourists to flee in what is now the biggest fire evacuation in Greek history.
Jet2 said it will fly aircraft which are scheduled to go out without any passengers on board in order to bring people home, as Brits rush to the island’s airport to escape the devastating fires.
The package holiday provider said it will not be running any flights until at least Wednesday, while TUI has said it is also cancelling all booked holidays for the next several days.
Meanwhile, airline giants EasyJet and Ryanair have said their flights are still operating to the country as normal.
Holidaymakers have been left infuriated that planes still packed with Brits have been able to depart for the scorched island, and now thousands are trapped on the island in makeshift evacuation camps.
It comes amid warnings from Greece’s fire service that the dire situation could become even worse today.
Tourists are sheltered in a stadium after being evacuated following a wildfire on the island of Rhodes
Tourists who want to leave the island are desperately making their way to its airport, with empty flights being sent in to get Brits out
TUI has said it is also cancelling all booked holidays for the next several days
Jet2 said it will fly aircraft which are scheduled to go out without any passengers on board in order to bring people home
The Ministry of Climate Change and Civil Protection said it was ‘the largest evacuation from a wildfire in the country.’
So far, the total number of people evacuated or redirected due to the fires has reached 19,000, according to the Greek government.
Of that number, 16,000 people were evacuated by land and 3,000 by sea.
A spokesperson told Sky News: ‘It has been the largest evacuation ever [In Greece] in a fire with coordinated mobilisation of all resources.’
As resorts have reportedly been engulfed by flames, sports halls, schools and hotels which are away from the worst of the fires have been turned into refuge centres.
Thousands of tourists have been forced to camp on futons and deck chair cushions in halls without aircon and even outside in the baking heat.
Newlywed Andrew Brittan, 27, and his wife Emily, traveled from Birmingham to Rhodes for their honeymoon yesterday, unaware that it would become a holiday from hell.
‘The first night of my honeymoon was spent on a mattress outside,’ he told MailOnline from a packed refuge centre.
Generous locals have been donating mattresses, water and fruit and snacks to the terrified stranded tourists.
As holiday providers are rushing to get Brits out of the fire-ravaged island, Jet2 says: ‘We ask any customers in affected areas to follow the advice of the local authorities, or their hoteliers who will be acting under the advice of the authorities.
Flames rise during a forest fire on the island of Rhodes, Greece
Brits crammed in a hotel away from the fires have been forced to sleep on sun lounger cushions outside as they flee the fires
Smoke rises into the sky as wildfires head towards the Princess Sun Hotel in Rhodes
‘Those due to travel will receive a full refund and an opportunity to rebook, the company says.
‘We will fly those five aircraft to Rhodes with no customers onboard, so that we can bring customers back to the UK on their scheduled flight.’
Easyjet said in a statement: ‘We are currently operating as normal to Rhodes however we continue to closely monitor the situation. We advise customers travelling to and from Rhodes to check the status of their flights on Flight Tracker.
‘Easyjet is currently working to comply with requests of the local authorities, and is in contact with customers in resort to support them. The safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew is our highest priority.’
They added that any customers who are booked to travel to or from the island until 29 July can transfer for free to another date or can request a flight voucher.
TUI spokesperson Linda Jonczyk told AFP: ‘Until Tuesday, no more new tourists will be flown’, adding that empty planes were still being flown in to help evacuate the thousands of tourists affected.
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