Dutch tourists evacuated from Rhodes land at Schiphol; More fires on other Greek Islands

A flight landed at Schiphol Airport early on Monday morning with Dutch tourists on board who had been evaluated from Rhodes because of the forest fires. There were about 120 people on the flight, both passengers who were already planning to fly to the Netherlands on Sunday evening and people who had to leave earlier than planned. Wildfires are now also raging on the Greek islands and holiday destinations Corfu and Evia.

Falco (22) was supposed to stay on Rhodes until Wednesday but had to cut his holiday short because of the forest fires. “We were in a hotel in Gennadi, but it was one of the first hotels that had to be evacuated. We saw the flames from our hotel room,” he said after arriving at Schiphol. “We were taken to a hotel in the south by buses.” The evacuation went smoothly, he said. “There was a mass of people with luggage, but only about 50 people fit in a bus. That was crowded.”

When he arrived at the other hotel, it was so busy with tourists coming from different parts of the island that he had to spend the night on the reception floor. “It was also very unclear whether we could fly back and how to get to the airport. Everyone said something different.” In the end, he could take a bus to the airport and catch the first available flight. “On the way to the airport, we passed our first hotel and saw that it had fire damage. So the evacuation was necessary.”

Erinn (19) and Linda (23) were staying in a hotel in Ixia, in the far north, which emergency services used to bring people to safety. “Yesterday, more than ten buses arrived at our hotel with people who had been evacuated. It was hectic. People slept on suitcases and chairs, and all the beds by the pool were full,” said Erinn. They were scheduled to go home on Sunday anyway, but it was stressful whether their flight would depart. “We’re glad we could go home.”

It was the first direct flight bringing Netherlands residents home. Forty Corendon guests were already brought home on Sunday with flights that made a stopover on the Greek island.

Large forest fires have been raging on Rhodes for almost a week, fanned by the strong winds. The south of the island is hit particularly hard. Some 19,000 people have been evacuated and brought to safety, a government official said.

Other Greek islands also on fire

Fire also broke out on the northern part of Corfu, the northernmost Greek island in the Ionian Sea. According to local media, the fire has already reached the first houses in the village of Megoulas.

According to the news agency AFP, the first evacuations of holidaymakers staying on Corfu started on Sunday evening. Emergency services are urging tourists and residents of 12 towns on Corfu, including Santa, Megoula, Porta, and Palia Perithia, to evacuate, the news agency ANA reported.

Dutch tourists interviewed by the Telegraaf report large crowds of evacuated people in the town of Ipsos on Corfu. In the small coastal town of Nisaki in northeastern Corfu, the coastguard is evacuating people from the beach.

On Evia, an island in the Aegean Sea off the coast of Attica, five villages were evacuated on Sunday due to a forest fire, according to the local first responders.

Greece travel advice adjusted, but still green

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has adjusted its travel advice for Greece because of the forest fires. The color code for Greece is still green, which means that the country is no more dangerous than the Netherlands, but the situation is changing rapidly, the Ministry warned. The Greek authorities have declared a state of emergency on Rhodes and are calling on locals and tourists to leave the southeast of the island.

The Ministry warned that smoke can be harmful to health and that families with children and people with asthmatic complaints, in particular, are at risk. Dutch travelers can also expect longer travel times due to traffic jams and delayed or canceled flights. The Ministry urged travelers to always follow the instructions of local authorities and keep a close eye on the local media.

Reporting by ANP

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