Brits who were forced to flee Rhodes due to wildfires will be offered free holiday next year, Greek PM confirms

2 August 2023, 13:34 | Updated: 2 August 2023, 14:43

More than 20,000 tourists and locals were forced to flee Rhodes due to wildfires
More than 20,000 tourists and locals were forced to flee Rhodes due to wildfires. Picture: Alamy
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Brits who were forced to flee burning Rhodes this summer will be offered a free holiday on the Greek island next year, the country's prime minister has said.

Around 15 per cent of land of Rhodes was affected by recent wildfires, though the situation is now back to normal, according to Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

Mr Mitsotakis said his government will now work with local authorities to offer a week's holiday in compensation for those whose holiday was cut short by the wildfires.

Tourists are being evacuated during a forest fire on the island of Rhodes last month
Tourists are being evacuated during a forest fire on the island of Rhodes last month. Picture: Alamy

"Next spring, the next fall, so that we make sure they come back to the island and enjoy its natural beauty," he said.

Around 20,000 tourists were forced to flee the Greek island, as were thousands of locals, after multiple fires broke out on July 18 amid soaring temperatures.

Burning Greek island Rhodes
Burning Greek island Rhodes. Picture: Getty

Multiple airlines started operating strict emergency-only flights due to the wildfires, leading to many more holidaymakers having their holidays cancelled.

In one instance, an EasyJet pilot urged them to get off the plane heading for Rhodes, telling them their holiday was a "terrible idea".

The pilot made the last-ditch attempt to warn holidaymakers against travelling to Rhodes as the flight prepared to take off from Gatwick.

Fires raged across Europe in one of the hottest months ever recorded on Earth
Fires raged across Europe in one of the hottest months ever recorded on Earth. Picture: Alamy

There were 37 British holidaymakers on board, who were told by the captain that it was a "bad idea" to carry on with their journey.

Read More: Death toll rises amid Mediterranean wildfires as more countries tackle blazes after Rhodes state of emergency declared

Read More: Rhodes declares state of emergency as six new Greek regions face 'extreme' risk of wildfires

"Travelling to Rhodes for a holiday at the moment is a terrible idea," he told his passengers. "As far as I'm concerned, this flight is being operated on an emergency basis.

Tourist resorts near the town of Lardos on the Greek island of Rhodes, where the fire stopped just short of the walls
Tourist resorts near the town of Lardos on the Greek island of Rhodes, where the fire stopped just short of the walls. Picture: Alamy

"Return flights are now being managed by the military. If you want to get off flight, you are welcome to do so."

Before this point, thousands had already left the island.

'Run, Run, Run': Holidaymaker tells of terrifying evacuation from Greek island

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast British holidaymaker Narrissa Sketchley described the harrowing tale of her evacuation from fire-ravaged Rhodes.

She told LBC the "white ash started dropping on us" which was her first indicator of a problem.

"We could see these big, thick, black clouds coming over, the water helicopters were over us."

She told Nick when she called her local holiday rep she was told to "stay put."

Revealing her horrifying tale, Narrissa said her family could no longer stay outside as the smoke was too thick.

"We asked the hotel reception what to do and they told us to stay put, we waited and waited until we got a text from the government."

She said this message told holidaymakers to feel the area she was in, but her family was unsure where the area they were supposed to flee to was.

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