Sun beds have been abandoned and lively hotels and bars lie quiet after thousands of tourists were forced to flee Greek islands due to escalating bushfires.
Fanned by severe winds and sweltering temperatures, fires that were initially only affecting the central mountains in Rhodes have threatened coastal resorts. More than 19,000 people have been displaced and some airlines in Germany and the UK have suspended flights to the island.
Firefighters struggled to bring the blazes under control as Greece faces what could be its longest heatwave on record. In Rhodes, images shared online show dozens of exhausted travellers sleeping on the airport floor, while others queue outside the door as they await to depart.
Climate change making Greek bushfires worse
Travellers say they escaped a terrifying situation, video shows the roads are lined with dead animals, blackened trees, and burnt-out cars. "I've never been so scared in my entire life," one holidaymaker told Reuters.
While fires in Greece regularly occur, because of climate change they have become more intense and severe. Global temperatures have already increased by 1.1 degrees since preindustrial levels according to experts, and the situation will only worsen unless governments commit to reducing global emissions by reducing the use of fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal.
In parts of Greece, temperatures over the past week have regularly soared over 40 degrees. Overnight it was reported 82 fires were burning across the country. The Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis took to social media to thank Jordan, Israel, Bulgaria, Malta, Egypt and Turkey for sending firefighting resources.
In 2021, bushfires killed three people and burned 125,000 hectares, the worst since 2007 when 270,000 hectares were scorched — the country's worst year on record.
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