A Scottish couple on their honeymoon have told how they were greeted with “post-apocalyptic” scenes after arriving in Rhodes.
Luna and Daniel Rolfe, from Glasgow, are among the thousands of British nationals stuck on the Greek island where wildfires have been burning for a week.
Luna said she was told by holiday company TUI that it was safe to travel to the country and did not find out how dire the situation was until the plane landed.
The newlyweds had got on a bus at the airport that they thought would drop them off at their hotel.
“We got on the bus and there were no concerns,” she told STV News. “And then a couple got on and started saying, ‘this bus is heading straight for the fires. It’s not safe. It’s really dangerous’.”
Luna said the passengers were then told they would be driven to an evacuation centre instead.
She said a couple who has been sitting behind them then told them: “We’re going to the same hotel as you – we think it’s on fire”.
The Scot said the hotel had been evacuated previously due to smoke but it wasn’t clear whether it had been on fire itself.
She continued: “We then got to this bit where we started going up one-way streets and cars were having to move out of the way to let out to let us past and it was very post-apocalyptic and scary.
“There were kids behind us who were freaking out because they didn’t know what was happening.
“We got to a sports centre when a TUI rep came on the bus and said he got the wrong end initially.
“He said, ‘don’t worry we will get you to your flights and everything will be fine’.”
“We’ve just arrived,” she told the worker.
Luna said by the time she and her husband got to the sports centre all the mattresses had been taken.
She then went outside to look for the TUI employee but was not allowed back in because the centre was full.
The couple were then taken to a nearby school where they spent the night.
Asked what their plans are now, Luna said: “We don’t know.
“Because we spent the night in the school on the floor with hundreds of people who are also panicked and stressed and didn’t know what was happening.
“We were under the impression that everything was going to be cancelled and we would be sent home.
“So we booked an Airbnb to have one honeymoon night and then we’ll go home but we haven’t heard anything.
“I phoned TUI this morning and they said ‘we want to get everyone home as fast as we can but we don’t know when we can. We are sending empty planes but we can’t guarantee you’ll get anything soon’.”
She added: “Our hotel is in Kiotari and our Airbnb host told us last night the whole of Kiotari is burnt.
“They don’t know if the hotel is but the village is totally gone.”
Much of Europe has suffered from a prolonged heatwave that’s helped create dry conditions that increase the chance of fires.
Experts have warned such events will become more common in future due to climate change.
Luna said she will have to check out of the Airbnb by Monday night.
But she does not know whether she will be going back to an evacuation centre or if she will risk booking a plane home that TUI won’t cover.
“We don’t really know what to do,” she said. “We’re a bit stuck.”
A spokesperson from TUI said the safety of customers remains “the number one priority,” adding efforts were under way to bring holidaymakers home as soon as possible.
“Four repatriation flights have now started to bring customers home. A fifth flight is planned for tomorrow morning and all available flights on scheduled returns will be utilised,” they said.
“We have reps in all evacuation centres and we’re aiming to get more people home from the affected areas as soon as we can.
“We appreciate how distressing and difficult it’s been for those who have been evacuated and ask that they continue to follow the advice of the local authorities and keep in touch with our teams.
“We have cancelled all outbound flights to Rhodes up to and including Friday 28th July, and have also cancelled all outbound flights for customers travelling to impacted hotels up to and including on Sunday 30th July.
“Passengers due to travel to areas not affected by fires on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th July will be offered a fee free amend to another holiday or the option to cancel for a full refund.
“We are still operating empty outbound flights to bring those customers currently on holiday elsewhere in Rhodes home as planned and working to get those in affected areas as soon as possible.
“The safety and well-being of our customers and teams remains our top priority.”