Rhodes: ‘The Greek people and volunteers have been amazing’

Rhodes: ‘The Greek people and volunteers have been amazing’

Since the resurgence on Saturday of the wildfires on the island of Rhodes forced the evacuation of thousands of tourists, the hashtag #Rhodes has been trending in the United Kingdom.

Reading some of the 30,000 tweets that have been shared since Saturday, using #Rhodes, it is obvious that it has stirred an important debate on British social media; was the fire arson or the result of climate change? Twitter users have been divided between those warning of the new reality created by climate change and those denying its existence.

Others are writing of the inequitable coverage given by British media to the difficulties faced by holidaymakers in comparison to the brutal reality faced by the locals or the fact that the local fauna and flora has been turned to ash. Others note how easy it is for circumstances to change and to find yourself, even temporarily, as a refugee.

Several eyewitnesses share their experiences, praising the locals who provided them with food and shelter, showing empathy about the troubles facing a visitor in a foreign land, afraid and threatened by a blazing inferno.

“Slept at a school staffed by local volunteers who brought us food, water, mattresses, then helped to find us a room and gave us a lift into Rhodes Town,” wrote Matthew Ward from Leeds. “Unbelievable hospitality and kindness,” he added.

Jamie McMahon wrote that the villagers of Afantou gave them food, toys and nappies, while helping them find taxis to their hotel. This is something that the holiday companies and airlines did not do, he noted.


“Just been evacuated to a school in Rhodes. The Greek people and volunteers have been amazing in light of such a terrible tragedy for their country,” wrote Joy Joanne Say.

“My daughter and I are safe on a big boat,” stated Kaz Derbyshire from Leicester, noting that the two of them had been split from the rest of the family that was still on the beach. Her tweet included a photograph of their night rescue, where the dark waters and fires burning in the background are clearly visible. “We are in a school,” she mentions in a second tweet, uploading a photo of her daughter lying on the floor.

Just like Kaz Derbyshire, many other tourists on the island of Rhodes used social media to attempt to contact the tour operators and airlines with which they had booked their trips and flights.


“Chaos at Rhodes airport tonight,” wrote Jess Bailey on Sunday morning, including a photo of huge queues outside Rhodes airport. “Tui, why did you fly us and hundreds of other people in when hotels are cut off by wildfires? Totally irresponsible.”

“Two amazing locals who have very kindly offered to take us north of the island to safety! Will forever be grateful to them,” wrote Abi Davies.

In a viral video, three women describe how locals on Rhodes helped them move away from the fire fronts and provided help to all tourists, offering fruit for the children, water, food, shelter. The tourists who came face to face with the fire have nothing but gratitude for the locals. 

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