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WATCH: Jet2 and TUI flights cancelled as British tourists in limbo in middle of Rhodes fires

Flights to Rhodes have been cancelled and tourists left in limbo after wildfires spreading across the Greek island forced thousands to flee hotels.

Holiday company Jet2 cancelled five flights to Rhodes, while TUI cancelled all flights there until Wednesday.

The deputy mayor of Rhodes, Athanasios Vyrinis said some people had slept in cardboard boxes overnight and warned that there are not enough essentials.

Reports now suggest about 19,000 people have been evacuated by land and sea.

One family has resorted to sleeping on mattresses on a conference room floor, while others are desperately searching for alternative accommodation.

Greece’s fire service has apologised and warned the situation could worsen.

A further 1,200 will be evacuated from three villages – Pefki, Lindos and Kalathos.

Rhodes has been battling wildfires fanned by strong winds since Tuesday, as Europe deals with a challenging heatwave.

Jet2 said all flights to Rhodes up to and including next Sunday were cancelled, but planes would still bring tourists back home from the island.

EasyJet said flights were operating as normal, but package holidays to the island were cancelled until Wednesday.

Ryanair said flights to Rhodes were still running and not affected by the wildfires.

A British Airways flight scheduled for Monday will still be running to bring tourists home, said the operator, adding that customers either already in Rhodes or due to fly out could change their flights free of charge.

SOURCE COPERNICUS

Thomas Cook said it currently had 300 customers in Rhodes, 40 of which had been evacuated, and any holidays in the affected areas scheduled between before 31 July would be cancelled. But customers who had holidays booked in unaffected areas of Rhodes would still be able to travel if they wished to.

Deputy mayor Mr Vyrinis said: “There is only water and some rudimentary food – we don’t have mattresses and beds.”

Speaking to Open TV from an assembly point, the deputy mayor said people were using cardboard boxes to sleep in and people arriving in Rhodes had nowhere to stay.

Lesley Young – who arrived in Lindos, Rhodes on Saturday morning – said she could not go to their hotel because it had been evacuated.

Despite having holiday insurance worth £2,000 to use for alternative accommodation, Ms Young said: “We have not been able to find anything at all.”

“So we have been taken to the sister hotel of the one we booked and they have set up mattresses on the floor of one of their conference rooms.

“They have really tried to do the best but we have no idea how long we will be in this situation.”

Ms Young, who is on holiday as a group of seven including three children and four adults, said they had a two week holiday booked but was unsure if they would stay that long.

“Luckily we have our luggage and the children are jumping up and down on the mattresses,” she added.

A couple on their honeymoon said they had been moved from a beach, where they were stranded with thousands of other people, by the Greek army in the early hours of Sunday.

No injuries have been reported, according to the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection in Greece.

It said tourists are being evacuated safely from the affected areas – which represents less than 10% of the island’s tourist accommodation – and are being redirected to other hotels on the island.

ERT has reported that the areas that have been affected by the wildfires still have no power.

Greek authorities are urging locals to donate breakfast items such as croissants and fruit, as many tourists are complaining about the lack of a plan regarding food.

Claire Pearsall detailed her experience of the Rhodes Wildfires on GB News.

‘Bedlam in Rhodes tonight’

“It’s very stressful,” said John Miller, who has been evacuated, with his family, twice from his hotel.

The hotel they were at in Kiotari had multiple power cuts so they were being transferred to Plimmiri, he said on Saturday.

“There is bedlam in Rhodes tonight,” said Mr Miller, from Kent.

He said the roads were gridlocked and the military was on its way.

Simon Wheatley

Simon Wheatley had to flee his hotel, alongside his pregnant fiancé and three-year-old son, and is still searching for alternative accommodation for the next few nights.

“I haven’t found a hotel for this evening,” he said, adding that the family needed accommodation until Tuesday, when they are due to leave.

He said tannoys across the hotel said “immediate evacuation” and urged people to take only essentials.

They packed everything they could into one suitcase and left two suitcases behind, he told the BBC.

Mr Wheatley, from Cheltenham, said his family was “one of the lucky ones” because they had a hire car, while others at the hotel had to wait for shuttle buses or taxis.

“People were there with wet t-shirts over their mouth trying to breathe more effectively because the air by then was unbearable.

“It was like a bad bonfire in November, you could not handle the smoke at all.”

The Foreign Office has advised travellers in Greece affected by wildfires to follow the guidance from emergency services and to call 112 if there is immediate danger.

The British ambassador to Greece said a “rapid deployment team” had been sent by the Foreign Office to help British tourists.

Andrea, who was initially evacuated by boat from a beach, said there were thousands of people and they were “screaming and fighting”.

One boat arrived and was only taking women and children, she told the BBC.

After being taken to safety, Andrea said her and a friend were taken back to their hotel by staff in their own cars.

They were then woken up by banging on the doors for evacuation at 01:00 and “we could see the fire coming over the hill” she said.

“It has been very, very scary,” she said, adding the air was “horrific” and causing her breathing difficulties.

(Source: BBC)

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