The Greek island has been in the grip of fire for almost a week. More than 30,000 people have already been evacuated, “the largest evacuation operation ever carried out in Greece”.
Their vacation turned into a nightmare. More than 30,000 residents and tourists were evacuated on Sunday from the Greek island of Rhodes, which has been in flames since Tuesday. On site are still many French people who spent their holidays on the island and who are trying to find a return flight as quickly as possible.
Camille, a young Frenchwoman on vacation with her family and a group of 200 French people, tells BFMTV that she was evacuated three times before reaching the airport north of Rhodes.
“Everything happened in 24 hours, we had to walk along the southern beaches with the suitcases, some were taken by boat, others by bus, we made stops in schools but in the middle of the night we all received an alert on our phone to evacuate” a third time, she says on our antenna.
“People were in panic”
At the time of this third departure in the middle of the night, she explains that panic has invaded the tourists.
“People were in panic because we saw the fire getting dangerously close on the horizon, people absolutely wanted to get on the boats and buses,” says the young woman whose family was separated at the time of the evacuation.
If Saturday was officially the last day of the family vacation, it was impossible for her to return to France as planned. Her flight was canceled and no other was at this stage organized to repatriate her.
7 kilometers on foot under 40°C
Same experience for Natalia, who came on vacation with her relatives on the island. She tells TF1 that she saw the staff at her hotel “start to panic” before hearing sirens and being asked to evacuate. Then begins the same journey as Camille, along the beaches with their luggage for seven kilometers and under 40°C.
“Those who suffered the most were the elderly, mothers, young children who were bright red because of the heat”, testifies her husband.
If Natalia evokes “angst” as the first feeling, she indicates that it is “the rush of adrenaline” which has taken over. “We had to evacuate, save our skin”. With his family, they spent two nights at the airport and are still waiting for a flight.
“We hope to see the light in a few days”
Hugo also saw the fires progress and “the Canadairs pass over” his hotel. He had “prepared psychologically” to evacuate, packed all his bags and reached the airport on Saturday. Sunday, he told on our antenna to be always waiting before being able to board a plane.
As for the locals, they hope that the situation will evolve positively very quickly.
“We hope to see the light in a few days, that all this hell will end, we are still worried,” laments Despina Kokkinou, a resident of the island, at the microphone of BFMTV.
If she shares the anger of the inhabitants in the face of authorities who have not taken these fires “seriously”, she especially underlines the solidarity which has been put in place to evacuate the most fragile.
Greece has been hit for ten days by a heat wave which worsened this weekend with temperatures of more than 46°C locally. The Rhodes fire was fanned by strong winds while on Sunday, according to the national meteorological services EMY, the thermometer showed 36°C.
Source: BFM TV