Repatriation Flights Bring 450 Czechs Home From Rhodes – Ministry

Photo by Raquel Raclette on Unsplash.

Prague, July 24 (CTK) – About 450 Czech travel agency clients returned home from Rhodes over large local forest fires on two night repatriation flights, and more such flights are being planned, Martin Smolek, senior director of the Foreign Affairs Ministry legal and consular section, told public Czech TV (CT) today.

The government special planes will not be sent to the Greek island yet, he added.

Interior Minister Vit Rakusan (Mayors and Independents, STAN) has asked travel agencies not to send tourists to Rhodes anymore, and help Czechs return home from the island.

The Foreign Ministry will not yet issue a blanket recommendation not to travel to Rhodes, as the situation on the island is improving, according to local firefighters, Smolek said.

At the same time, the authority warned on Twitter about fires with a risk of spreading in the northeastern region of the Greek island of Corfu. Smolek said 60 Czechs had been evacuated from the hotel in Corfu overnight, but had returned there in the morning and were continuing their stay.

After the two overnight Czech emergency flights, another flight was scheduled for the morning and then for the evening, but it also has the capacity to repatriate people whose holidays end earlier due to the evacuation, Smolek told CT.

Some other people who have so far failed to contact their travel agent are at hotspots near the airport in Rhodes. These people will be assisted by two members of a special consular team as well as two firefighting officers.

Representatives of the Foreign Ministry have again held talks with travel agencies today.

Smolek said the Czech Republic was relying on the information and recommendations of the Greek authorities and that the situation was improving, according to the local firefighters, with Asklipio remaining the only really critical locality.

A fire also broke out on the island of Corfu in the night, and some 2 600 clients were evacuated there. There were 60 Czechs in one hotel who were evacuated due to the proximity of the fire, but returned to their accommodation in the morning, Smolek said. There are 17 places affected by the fire on the island of Corfu, he added.

According to the local police, the largest evacuation operation to date has taken place in Greece, caused by the forest fires that broke out on the island of Rhodes and spread to the nearby resorts in the southeast on Saturday morning due to strong winds. The tourist resorts of Kiotari and Lardos were engulfed in a thick smoke. Local media say some 20,000 people have been evacuated, the AFP French new agency has reported about 30,000.

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