- Greece undertakes historic mass evacuation, relocating approximately 19,000 individuals due to relentless wildfires on the Aegean island of Rhodes.
- The evacuation prioritizes safety amid Greece's reliance on its tourism industry, which constitutes 25% of the nation's GDP.
- As Greece grapples with its hottest July weekend in decades, the weather conditions have inadvertently exacerbated the nationwide fire crisis.
In an unprecedented move, Greece organized the largest evacuation in its history, uprooting thousands from villages and tourist hotspots on the island of Rhodes as high-speed winds stoked wildfires for the sixth consecutive day.
The Greek fire department reported that around 19,000 individuals, predominantly tourists residing in hotels, were relocated as uncontrollable blazes tore across three fronts on the Aegean island. Approximately 16,000 were evacuated by land while the remaining sought refuge by sea.
"The mass evacuation operation we've undertaken in Greece, aimed at securing the safety of residents and visitors alike, is the largest our country has ever seen," remarked Ioannis Artopios, a spokesperson for the Greek fire brigade.
Given the significant contribution of tourism to Greece's economy—accounting for a quarter of its GDP and one in five jobs—the authorities swiftly acted to steer holidaymakers away from the menacing infernos. The fires ravaged through the island's verdant pine forests, a popular destination known for its picturesque beaches and historical ruins.
As Greece experienced one of its hottest July weekends in half a century, with temperatures soaring to 45C (113F), the sweltering, dry, and windy conditions became a tinderbox for nationwide fires. Scores of wildfires have emerged across Greece since the onset of the heatwave, with fresh outbreaks in Evia, Greece's second-largest island, and the Peloponnese.
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