Where are the fires? What holidaymakers should know as airlines cancel flights

As evacuations continue, The National looks at the worst affected areas

A tourist from Wales waits for departing planes at the airport, after being evacuated following a wildfire on Rhodes. Reuters
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Major fires are raging in southern Europe and North Africa causing deaths, destroying homes and forcing evacuations of locals and tourists.

New evacuation orders were made in Greece and two people were killed in Italy. Others blazes have ripped through Algeria, Tunisia, Croatia, Turkey and Portugal.

In Europe, Greece and Italy have suffered the greatest toll from the summer heatwaves and wildfires. In Africa, Algeria has suffered the most deaths.

The fires come during peak holiday season, with tourism a key employment and economic driver for many of the affected towns.

Where are the fires?


New evacuations were ordered on the islands of Corfu, Evia and Rhodes, where thousands of tourists were moved to safety over the weekend.

The body of a missing farmer was found in southern Evia, the same island where two Greek firefighting pilots died in a crash during a low-altitude water drop.

Temperatures in Greece are back above 40ºC and strong winds are fanning the flames.

On Rhodes, where more than 20,000 foreign visitors and locals have fled seaside hotels and homes, dozens of firefighters tried to tame a front close to a mountainous area in the south. The fires on the island have damaged an inland nature reserve.


A wildfire has been burning near the famous walled town of Dubrovnik, along the Adriatic Sea coast.

Water-dropping planes and more than 100 firefighters held off the blaze before it eventually reached houses.

The medieval stone city is a protected heritage site and Croatia’s best-known tourism destination.

“It’s been a long night but we managed to stave off the part (of the fire) that is important because of the houses,” firefighting unit commander Stjepan Simovic said. “We must be careful because the wind has started to pick up and the fire can grow again.”


More than 500 firefighters continued to tackle a blaze close to Lisbon. The fire forced the evacuation of 90 people from their homes.

The blaze near the coastal town of Cascais, 30 kilometres west of the Portuguese capital, was brought under control early on Wednesday, helped by cooler temperatures. However, firefighters remained in the area.


A hospital and 12 homes were evacuated in the town of Kemer, on Turkey's southern Mediterranean coast, where firefighters for a third day battled a blaze raging through woodland.

At least 10 planes, 22 helicopters and hundreds of firefighters were deployed to extinguish the flames as meteorologists warned temperatures could rise several degrees above seasonal averages.


Dozens killed as wildfires sweep Algeria

Dozens killed as wildfires sweep Algeria

Algeria managed to contain the bush fire that had been raging in its forests, state TV said. At least 34 people, including 10 soldiers, have been killed in the blazes.

Witnesses described fleeing walls of flames that raged “like a blowtorch”, and TV footage showed charred cars, burnt-out shops and smouldering scrubland.


Firefighters, with the help of members of the Algerian army and firefighting planes from Spain, have contained blazes that broke out in several regions, the Tunisian Interior Minister said on Wednesday.

The wildfires swept across from Algeria into the Tunisian regions of Tabarka, Jendouba, Beja, Bizerte and Siliana, forcing hundreds to evacuate their homes.

Temperatures of 49°C (120°F) were recorded in some cities in Tunisia this week.

Interior Minister Kamel Feki told parliament that no loss of life had been recorded during the recent fires and 600 evacuated residents have returned to their home

How many tourists have been evacuated?

British, Dutch, French and German citizens were among the tourists on Rhodes, which can accommodate up to 150,000 visitors in peak season.

About 3,000 holidaymakers had left by plane by Tuesday, while tour operators cancelled upcoming trips. Tui has stopped all flights to the island until August 11.

German travel association DRV said about 20,000 German tourists were on the island, but only a small proportion were affected by the evacuations.

Rhodes, which counted 2.5 million visitor arrivals in 2022, has about 100,000 inhabitants.

Greek Tourism Minister Olga Kefalogianni said the wildfires had affected only a small part of Rhodes.

“We have contacted the chamber of hoteliers and we want to see how we can bring people with holiday vouchers back,” she said.

Which airlines have cancelled flights?

Greece starts evacuation of Corfu

Greece starts evacuation of Corfu

Tour operator Jet2 has cancelled all flights to affected areas of Rhodes until July 31. The agency announced it had been in touch with all customers who were scheduled to travel there on July 24 to arrange “swift refunds”.

EasyJet has cancelled package holidays to Rhodes until July 25, though it said it is currently “operating flights as normal”.

Thomas Cook announced it had cancelled all holidays to Kiotari and Lardos, in the south of the island, up to and including Monday July 31, and would be in touch to offer full refunds.

British Airways says it was offering customers the chance to leave early and change flights free of charge.

Ryanair said on Sunday its flights to and from Rhodes were operating as normal. Chief financial officer Neil Sorahan said the airline was monitoring the situation on Monday.

What is the current travel advice?

Holidaymakers who are travelling to Rhodes in August have been urged not to cancel yet and to wait for more clarity in the coming days.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry has issued a travel warning for Rhodes, as well as the islands of Corfu and Evia.

The UK Foreign Office has stopped short of advising against travelling to Rhodes. Instead, it has said to check with travel operators to ensure that their hotel has not been caught up in the emergency.

The refusal to advise against travel has put some holidaymakers in limbo as to whether they can cancel their holiday and receive a full refund.

Customers’ rights vary depending on whether they have booked a package holiday or have booked the elements of their trip independently, according to the Association of British Travel Agents.

“If your holiday has been cancelled, Abta members will discuss your options with you, which could be the offer of an alternative holiday or a refund for the cost of the package holiday,” a representative said.

“If you booked your holiday arrangements separately and your flight has been cancelled, you should be entitled to a refund for your flight. You will then need to look at the terms of the conditions for your other bookings such as accommodation and transport. You may also want to look at your travel insurance policy.”

Updated: July 26, 2023, 4:42 PM