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Rhodes island wildfires (July 2023) - information and updates

Wildfires in Rhodes: Fires are under control. Residents can return to their homes.

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For more announcements you can check our Facebook page or the the Municipality of Rhodes Facebook page

28.07.2023 15:00

Message from the European emergency call number to citizens lifts the emergency from the fires

A message from the European emergency call number "112" was sent a short while ago to several of our fellow citizens with which the state of danger declared for the villages of Pylonas, Kalathos, Apollo and Prophet Elias Salakos is lifted and therefore their residents can return safely to these areas.

Recall that yesterday, the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection in a message informed residents and visitors of Malona, Haraki, Massari, Asclepius, Kiotari, Vati, Gennadi, Lachania and Plymiri areas that the fire danger has been lifted.

A similar message was sent the day before yesterday for the areas of Lindos, Kalathos and Pefkus.

27.07.2023 19:00

According to an announcement by the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, which sent a message via 112, the emergency is removed for the settlements of Asklipio, Kiotari, Vati, Gennadi, Lachania and Plymiri and citizens can return to their place of residence.

Earlier, a message also arrived for residents of the settlements of Haraki and Malona.

The re-ignitions at the front of the fire in Rhodes today are successfully handled by the firefighting forces and numerous volunteers.

26.07.2023 13:30

Battle with the reignitions

Fire brigade operations continue uninterrupted for the ninth 24-hour period.

The work of firefighting forces to focus on the area of the villages of Malona, Vatiu and the area of Gennadi. The winds had weakened in the morning, but the flare-ups are continuing.

Late last night, the fire passed through Gennadi in the direction of the villages of Lachania and Messanagro, which put all forces and volunteers in the area on alert. However, no settlements were threatened and no message had to be sent from 112.

25.07.2023 19:30

Rhodes: Fire threatens houses in Gennadi

The fire is now threatening Gennadi and the houses in the area. The fire spread from the settlement of Vati, where houses were also threatened. However, in Vati the front was demarcated and the fire was split into two fronts. One front was directed to Gennadi and the other to Lahania.

The fire crossed the approximately 7 km from Vathy to Gennadi in less than an hour.

The district sent coaches to the village for possible evacuation of residents.

The fire is within 200 metres of the first houses, and police are appealing to residents to move away and head towards the sea to avoid crowding.

25.07.2023 13:00

New flare-ups in Rhodes - Battle to prevent the fire from entering Vati

New flare-ups are constantly occurring in the field of the fire that burns Rhodes for the 8th day and as everything indicates, today will be extremely difficult despite the fact that it started with relative calm.

As reported by AP - MPE, the strong fire brigade forces, volunteers, local residents and especially the young people, are bravely fighting this hour to prevent the fire from entering the village of Vati.

Also, strong flare-ups are being recorded on the second front towards the village of Gennadi, which has also mobilized strong fire brigade forces from the air and ground.

The third front towards Malona - Massari is also of concern and considered dangerous and for this reason, emergency reinforcements were requested a short while ago.

24.07.2023 15:00

"We are fighting against the fire with volunteers in Archangelos, the focus is on the South of Rhodes"

With volunteers, without the help of professionals and aircraft, locals in the community of Archangelos are trying to extinguish the fire which has shown resurgence in Malona - nine kilometers from Archangelos.

"We cannot do proper coordination. As we speak, the focus is on the southern part of Rhodes to avoid endangering people in a village there. I in my community, in Archangelos, I am fighting with volunteer firefighters and with the residents of the village so that the fire does not approach threateningly again," said to the president of the community of Archangelos, Panagiotis Dimelis.

24.07.2023 13:15

Evacuation of two more villages in Rhodes

The evacuation of the villages of Malona and Massari in Rhodes was announced a few minutes ago by the Ministry of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection, as there is a resurgence in a fire front near the two villages.

Residents of the two villages are advised to head towards the village of Archangelos.

24.07.2023 13:00

The deer of Rhodes victims of the fire

Several of the deer of Rhodes that were in the forest area where the fire broke out and is still going on, have lost their lives, according to the estimates of firefighters and volunteers who are at the front of the fire.

"We have casualties but we do not yet have a full picture of the extent of the disaster because we cannot go to the areas since the fire is raging," the president of the Regional Council and delegated councillor for the primary sector, Filimon Zannetidis, said, noting that the picture so far is not good at all.

According to estimates, several deer, as well as several sheep and goats, have fallen victim to the fire, which has been raging for a seventh day. The specific area where the fire started, the Apollona-Laermon forest, is one of the main deer habitats of Rhodes.

24.07.2023 12:45

Measures to support citizens and tourists in Rhodes

According to an update from the government on measures to support citizens and visitors in Rhodes, the following information has become known:

  • Within the next 24 hours, the engineering teams that will undertake the autopsies and experts in the fire-affected buildings are expected to go to the island, in order to assess the damage and initiate the granting of compensation, based on the comprehensive framework established in the previous four years.
  • So far, some 2 000 additional cots - in addition to those made available from day one in the shelters - and 500 sleeping bags have been received. They have been transferred to the larger structures housing visitors who have been forced to move out of their accommodation in order to further improve their living conditions.
  • A further 1,200 cots and 1,200 sleeping bags are expected to be delivered today. It is reminded that the stadiums, conference centres, hotel facilities and municipal structures that have been allocated are regularly supplied with food and water and have air conditioning.
  • The first reception and distribution of the ranches took place yesterday afternoon under the coordination of the Deputy Minister of Climate Crisis and Civil Protection Christos Triantopoulos and the Deputy Minister of Tourism Elena Rapti, who had earlier visited a number of accommodation sites in order to make an assessment of the immediate needs.
  • The second shipment was carried out with an Air Force C-130, the pick-up took place late in the evening and the distribution of the material was completed in the early hours of the morning.
  • Special care has been taken to facilitate visitors at Rhodes airport. In addition to the activation of a special office where, thanks to the cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and embassies, the departure of tourists without travel documents is facilitated, a special area with cots has already been created to accommodate families with small children and people with disabilities. Within the next few hours, a second such space will be made available. In addition, free food and bottled water is available at the airport.
  • The departure rhythms, which help to manage the situation effectively as the number of people needing temporary accommodation or relocation is reduced, thanks to the addition of more flights by the major tour operators.
  • Between yesterday and 6.00am today, 1,489 people have departed on aircraft authorised to pick up passengers, with destinations mainly in England, Germany and Italy.
  • The situation at the airport has improved drastically, with several areas almost empty. According to estimates by senior airport officials, under these circumstances the situation should be fully normalised by this afternoon.

23.07.2023 21:30

Major reignitions on all three fire fronts.
The fire is raging uncontrollably on the fronts of Rhodes and, according to all indications, the night will be particularly difficult. The battle to extinguish the fire continues unabated since early morning by firefighting planes, but also by strong firefighting forces and large groups of volunteers who have been on the battlefield from the very first moment.

So far, despite the efforts being made, the situation on the three fire fronts is out of control and the damage to the island's ecosystem is enormous.

The three ongoing fire fronts are in the areas of Asklepio, Kiotari, Apollona and Laerma and a battle is being fought from the air and on the ground to contain them. Strong winds and the rugged terrain are hampering the suppression effort.

Measures to facilitate passengers at Rhodes Airport

  1. In the next few hours, namely until 3 a.m., 14 flights with approximately 2,700 passengers will depart from the two companies. In total, by 12 a.m. there will be 44 flights, departures and arrivals, with approximately 14,500 passengers.
  2. Repatriation flights: All TUI and Jet2 flights arriving on the island will come empty to pick up passengers.
  3. Creation of a "Help Center". This centre is staffed by representatives of embassies and the police.
  4. Provision of food vouchers to waiting passengers. In addition, with the assistance of the municipality, 300 additional seats were provided at the airport to meet the increased and emergency needs.
  5. Activation of the Crisis Management Center, with representatives from airlines and ground handling agencies to provide immediate and better accommodations for all passengers.
  6. Following communication with ground handling agencies, staffing at the airport is increased to better serve passengers.
  7. Air Traffic Control has taken all necessary measures to ensure the smooth operation of the increased flight traffic.

23.07.2023 16:30

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Foreign Citizens Service Office at Rhodes Airport is now operational

A Help Desk of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been opened at the Rhodes International Airport, in Terminal 1. The desk will facilitate and coordinate, in cooperation with the relevant Embassies, the timely departure of foreign visitors who have lost their travel documents. The Help Desk is staffed by a team of Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials who have already travelled to Rhodes. Foreign nationals wishing to contact the Help Desk can call the following numbers: +30 6985889650 / 6983209611

In case of a particular emergency, the telephone number / WhatsApp can be used to contact the Help Desk: +306977960941

The Crisis Management Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs remains in operation since yesterday, when it was activated. Foreign nationals can be contacted on the following numbers: +30 210 368 1350 / +30 210 368 1259 / +30 210368 1730.

Greek and foreign citizens in immediate danger are kindly requested to contact directly and exclusively the Civil Protection on +30 2131331200.

23.07.2023 15:30

Firefighters are battling the flames in Rhodes today. The fire front extends in three places and specifically in Asclepieio, Laerma and Kiotari to Gennadi.

A state of emergency, due to the fire that continues to rage on the island of Rhodes, was declared by decision of the Secretary General of Civil Protection the municipal unit of Southern Rhodes.

The relevant decision issued today states, among other things, the following: "We decide to declare a state of Emergency Civil Protection of the Municipal Unit of Southern Rhodes of the Municipality of Rhodes of the Regional Unit of Rhodes of the South Aegean Region, to address the emergency needs and manage the consequences of a catastrophic forest fire that occurred on 18-07-2023 in the above areas. The said declaration shall be valid from the date of the outbreak and for six months, i.e. until 18 January 2024. After the expiry of the specified period, the above-mentioned Civil Protection Emergency status will be lifted without a new document."

Towards Kiotari and southwest towards Gennadi earthmoving machines are creating firebreaks to prevent the fire from crossing the stream. From Apollona to Prophet Elias the rekindling is ongoing with forces battling to prevent the fire from spreading to the dense forest In Laerma is the other major active front with air assets attempting to contain it. Meanwhile, the Tharri Monastery where five monks were staying was evacuated as a precautionary measure.

Since dawn, forces have been reinforced. 266 firefighters, 16 hikers, 49 vehicles, 10 planes and 8 helicopters, including 2 coordination helicopters, are operating, while volunteers are assisting the efforts of the firefighters.  In the field under the direction of the fire brigade, 31 Slovak firefighters with 4 water trucks are operating in the field and from the air 2 French aircraft, 2 Turkish and 1 Croatian aircraft.

British Ambassador to Greece Matthew Lodge said in a tweet that the British Foreign Office had sent a "rapid deployment team" to Rhodes, which is on its way, to help British tourists. Lodge also said the British embassy in Athens was working with Greek authorities, airlines and tour operators "to support UK nationals".

A total of six 112 messages have been sent by the General Secretariat for Civil Protection for organised evacuations which were completed overnight with the safety of residents and foreign visitors in mind. The evacuation involved 19,000 people. Thousands of tourists and residents were transported and accommodated in boats, closed gyms, schools and other places set up specifically for this purpose.

This is the largest ever operation to move residents and tourists to safe places in the country. More specifically, according to data from the Dodecanese Police Directorate, the following settlements were evacuated as a precautionary measure: Kiotari, Gennadi, Pylonas, Laerma, Lardos, Lindos, Kalathos Malona, Asclepieio, Pefkos, Massari, Haraki and hotels in these areas.

Many people, mainly elderly, but also disabled people were evacuated by police service vehicles, while the largest number of citizens were moved by tourist buses, Coast Guard boats and private boats commandeered by the police.

Huge wave of solidarity and volunteering
Huge and unprecedented is the wave of solidarity and offer of the residents of the island of Rhodes to our fellow citizens and tourists affected by the fire, who from last night were active from the first moment and helped to set up the spaces that would accommodate those in need.

Around 8 000 people, mainly foreign visitors, were accommodated last night and remain to this hour in schools and closed stadiums in the city and villages of Rhodes. There are also quite a few people in hotel conference centres and on boats in the port of Rhodes.

As stated by the Deputy Mayor of Rhodes, Mr. Thanasis Vyrinis, all schools in the city of Rhodes and in villages such as Kalithies, Afantou, Archangelos, Ialyssos, Kremasti have been opened and fire victims from the areas of Southern Rhodes have been transferred there. Indicatively, about 700 people were accommodated in the Venetokleio indoor stadium, 500 people in Rodion Paideia, 350 people in Rhodes College, while school halls and indoor gyms in all the above-mentioned villages are full.

With the help of hundreds of volunteers who from the very first moment last night were present to help set up and operate these temporary accommodation centres, foreign tourists were given the best possible service.

From early morning, food, fruit, juices, water, all offered by our fellow citizens, individuals who opened their businesses and sent as much food as they could, while supermarkets and mini-markets have been opened to serve them. Already these shops are being flooded by our fellow citizens who are rushing to supply their nearby areas with what they need.

It is worth noting that dozens of businesses are also offering food portions in their restaurants, and even a place for tourists to sleep, while hotels have accommodated the fire victims in air-conditioned rooms, and dozens of our fellow citizens who since yesterday have made their own houses available to provide hospitality, a bath and a sleep to those in need.

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