British tourists evacuated as 'apocalyptic' wildfires ravage Greek islands

Videos on social media showed tourists were forced to sleep on nearby football pitches and basketball courts after their hotel was evacuated.

Five people have been injured in the fires that are raging across the Greek islands of Chios and Kos in the eastern Aegean Sea, as Good Morning Britain reports

British tourists were ordered to evacuate their hotels as wildfires swept huge areas of the popular holiday destination Kos and Chios in Greece.

Emergency services urged people in the Metohi area of western Chios to shelter on nearby beaches on Monday morning.

By the evening, more than 140 firefighters, along with eight wildfire specialists, seven water-dropping planes and three helicopters, were fighting the blaze.

Videos on social media showed tourists sleeping on nearby football pitches and basketball courts after their hotel in Kos was evacuated.

“It was like something from an apocalyptic film, I was looking round the football pitch, how we were all fenced in, the Greek army were there handing out water and blankets,” Steve Fenwick, who had to flee his hotel, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

It is understood around 2,000 tourists were evacuated from the islands.

Two firefighters had been slightly injured, while dozens more firefighters were being brought in to tackle the flames by boat from the nearby island of Lesbos and from Athens.

State-run ERT television later reported that another two firefighters and a volunteer had suffered non life-threatening burns.

“The situation remains difficult in Chios, and all Civil Protection forces will make great efforts to limit it,” fire department spokesman Vasilis Vathrakoyiannis said during an evening briefing.

Another fire broke out further to the south in the Aegean, on the resort island of Kos, and by late Monday had forced the evacuation of several people, including tourists from hotels, as a precaution.

That blaze was being tackled by more than 100 firefighters, including reinforcements sent from Athens, as well as six water-dropping planes and two helicopters, Vathrakoyiannis added.

The blazes come a day after the fire department managed to tame two large forest fires near the Greek capital that had been fanned by strong winds.

Local authorities said it burned at least four homes and several cars.

A firefighter struggles to extinguish a forest fire in the Keratea area, southeast of Athens, Greece, Sunday, June 30, 2024. / Credit: AP

“We have had an exceptionally difficult June regarding weather conditions, with high levels of drought and unusually strong winds for this season,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Monday during a Cabinet meeting. This year’s summer, he said, “is predicted to be particularly dangerous” for wildfires.

Hot, dry weather combined with strong winds helped fan fires in both Greece and Turkey last month.

This year’s summer is expected to be particularly prone to blazes following a particularly mild, dry winter. Last year, extensive wildfires in Greece killed more than 20 people.

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