Greek boats evacuate over 2,000 people threatened by Rhodes fire

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More than 2,000 people were ferried to safety from beaches on the Greek island of Rhodes on Saturday, where a wildfire has been raging out of control for five days.

Three coastguard boats were leading more than 30 private vessels in the emergency evacuation, while a Greek navy boat was heading to the area.

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According to the Greek coastguard, people were being picked up from Kiotari and Lardos beaches on the east of the Mediterranean island popular with tourists.

The coastguard said over 1,500 people have already been evacuated to a safe beach.

From the moment the evacuation alert sounded early in the afternoon, tourists pulling their suitcases bean heading for the beach, some pushing strollers carrying small children.

Some of those seeking rescue had been unable to contact their airlines and missed their flights.

According to local authorities, a total of 30,000 people were taken away from the evacuated areas by all means.

ERT TV reported that some firefighters were stranded in the Ypseni Monastery near Lardos after attempting to convince the nuns living there to leave the area.

The firefighters, along with their commander, were said to be safe.

Deputy Fire Chief Yannis Artapoios said the blaze on Rhodes, which broke out on a mountain in the center of the island, was the most difficult the Fire Department forces there have faced.

Five helicopters and 173 firefighters were operating in the area.

Three hotels in the Kiotari area have been damaged by the fire, and thirty buses were used to evacuate tourists from two hotels as a precaution.

The battle to extinguish the fire in Rhodes continues in the area of Laermon and Lardos, where it is raging out of control.

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