Firetrucks line up as firefighters try to extinguish a wildfire burning near Alaerma, Rhodes Island, Greece, July 22, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

Athens: A wildfire raged uncontrolled on the Greek island of Rhodes on Saturday, forcing hundreds of people to flee affected villages and beaches, authorities said.

Coastguard vessels and more than 20 private boats took part in an operation to evacuate about 1,000 people from beaches close to the areas of Kiotari and Lardos in the southeastern part of the island, a coastguard official said.

read more

Firefighters, backed by air water bombers and reinforcements by Slovakia, struggled with new outbreaks of the wildfire, which has burned for days and was fanned by strong winds.

The fire has scorched swathes of forest since breaking out in a mountainous area on Tuesday. It damaged three hotels in the seaside village of Kiotari on Saturday, according to the Athens News Agency.

Civil protection authorities have warned of a very high risk of wildfires on Rhodes and other areas in Greece on Sunday, as temperatures were expected to hit 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit) amid a heatwave.

Fires are common in Greece but hotter, drier and windy summers have turned the country into a wildfire hotspot in recent years. Meteorologists have warned that the current sweltering temperatures are expected to last until the end of the month.