Greece wildfires: British tourists tell of 'traumatic' evacuations after arriving home from Rhodes
Around 10,000 British holidaymakers are believed to be on the Greek island of Rhodes, with repatriation flights operating to bring trapped tourists home
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It is believed that around 10,000 British tourists are on the island according to the Foreign Office. However, repatriation flights have taken place to return some holidaymakers home after they were forced to evacuate their accommodations and take refuge on the floor of schools, airports and sport centres.
Claire and Paul Jones, both 36, from Leicestershire said that they were removed from the Village Rhodes Beach Resort near Lardos on Saturday (22 July) amid a scene of "intense" smoke and a child creaming "I don't want to die".
Mrs Jones said: “It was really quite traumatic driving to where we went because you could see everyone fleeing their hotels, and people were walking along the beaches, walking along the roads, and they had babies and small children.”
A similar experience was shared by tourist Mark Payton, from Bristol. Mr Payton said: “It is devastation over there. You plan for these holidays, and it just feels like a real rubbish long weekend away.”
He added that he was disappointed in the action taken by his holiday operator Tui after his family were only able to get back to the UK after travelling from Rhodes to Kos via ferry, and organising a flight back to the UK from there.
Dominic Doggett, 30, and his fiancee Hannah Dolman, 28, had been on the island for their nuptials. They told reporters at Gatwick Airport after they arrived back home that the celebrations had come to an "abrupt end", adding that they had been sleeping on the floor of an office in a hotel before making their way back to the UK.
Martin Bowrey, 55, Victoria Bowrey, 51, and their son Hayden Bowrey, 19, were staying at a villa in Lardos when the family received an alert on their phones to evacuate. They were left sleeping on "slabs" in a school courtyard before boarding a flight which landed at Gatwick Airport on Monday (24 July).
Repatriation flights have been organised by airlines, with many landing on Monday (24 July) and more to arrive on Tuesday (25 July).
Four flights have flown operated by Tui so far, with a fifth due to land on Tuesday. easyJet carried a total of 421 passengers from Rhodes to the UK on Monday, with another flight due on Tuesday, while Jet2 announced that four repatriation flights had landed on Monday.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Our advice is focused on the safety of British nationals and enabling people to make an informed decision about the situation on the ground. The current situation is impacting on a limited area in Rhodes and while it’s right to keep it under review and it’s possible that the advice may change, we do not want to act out of proportion to the situation on the ground.”
A Foreign Office spokesman confirmed staff have arrived on Rhodes to support repatriation flights to return holidaymakers to the UK.