- By Siobhan Doman & Rosina Cini
- BBC News
Greece’s fire service says thousands of people have been evacuated from homes and hotels on the island of Rhodes.
Private boats have joined the Greek Coast Guard in evacuating people from beaches in the east of the island.
Greek Navy ships are also reported to visit this popular tourist spot.
Greece’s deputy fire chief said the fire in Rhodes was the most difficult his service had faced so far.
Five helicopters and 173 firefighters are operating in the area, and three hotels in the Kyotari area are reported to have been damaged by the fire.
A British woman said she was evicted from the hotel where she was staying with her sister and daughter but is now stranded on a beach with hundreds of others in the scorching heat.
Becky Mulligan told the BBC: “There’s a little shack, there’s a lot of us. There’s kids, it’s the middle of the day, we’re stuck here with no help, it’s disgusting.”
Simon Wheatley said he was eating when ash started falling on his pizza.
“The hotel said it was normal and there was no need to worry as they were in touch with the authorities about the situation,” he told the BBC.
His hotel was later evacuated.
“The other day we saw a beach bar we were at burn down. The smoke was so bad we had to leave two bags of stuff behind.”
Travel giant TUI said a small number of its hotels were affected and that it was diverting customers to alternative destinations as a precaution.
Jet2 said it was aware of the situation in Rhodes and asked customers to follow local guidance.
Firefighters from Slovakia arrived in Rhodes on Saturday to help local crews fight the blaze.
“The situation in Rhodes is very serious and very difficult. Firefighters had to evacuate and move because of strong winds and a quick change of direction of the fire,” the Slovak Fire and Rescue Services posted on Facebook.
Part of the Slovak rescue team has gone to coastal resorts to help with evacuation efforts there, they said.
Greece is facing more intense heat this weekend, with meteorologists warning that temperatures could soar to 45C (113F).
It will turn out to be Greece’s hottest July weekend in 50 years, according to one of the country’s top meteorologists.
Firefighters continue to battle dozens of wildfires across the country. An area west of Athens, along with Laconia in the southern Peloponnese and the island of Rhodes, was among the worst affected.
And as temperatures continue to rise, officials have warned that the risk of new fires is very high.
People have been advised to stay at home, and tourist sites, including Athens’ ancient Acropolis, will be closed in hot spots for the next two days.
Greece – like many other European countries – endured intense heat earlier this month.
The latest heat wave comes at a busy time for the country’s tourism sector.
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