Greece wildfire warning as Foreign Office urges holidaymakers to do one thing to stay safe

Lindos is an archaeological site, a town and a former municipality on the island of Rhodes, in the Dodecanese,
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Greece has issued an urgent warning for travellers to be fully prepared as the country anticipates serious wildfires this week.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has updated its holiday destination in relation to extreme weather. It comes as Greek authorities have raised the alarm over a "very high risk" for category four wildfires, which are set to hit the south on Wednesday, June 26.

To help keep UK holidaymakers safe, FCDO is asking that anyone planning to visit the country should sign up for special phone alerts from the Greek government’s Emergency Communication Service, which will send out warnings for any fires that break out in the area.

This can be easily done on various phones and just requires a settings change. On Tuesday, the government organisation which provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions, shared the following instructions on how to do this:

  • for iPhones - go to Settings > Notifications and enable the ‘Emergency Alerts’ option at the bottom

  • for Android 11 and higher - go to Settings > Notifications > Advanced Settings > Wireless Emergency Alerts

  • for Samsung devices - go to Settings > Apps > Messages > Notifications > Emergency Notifications and enable the ‘Emergency Alerts’ option

A man wearing breathing protection man reacts as a fire burns into the village of Gennadi on the Greek Aegean island of Rhodes, on July 25, 2023.
Persistent heatwaves saw wildfires tear through Rhodes and other Greek islands last summer -Credit:Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP via Getty Images

According to Greece's Civil protection website, the wildfire warning is in place across the following areas in Greece:

  • Region of Attica

  • Region of Central Greece (Evia)

  • Region of Crete

  • North Aegean Region (Lesvos Region, Chios Region, Samos Region, Ikaria Region)

FCDO adds to be cautious if you are in or near an area affected by wildfires and do the following:

  • follow @112Greece for official updates

  • follow the guidance of the emergency services

  • call the Greek emergency services on 112 if you are in immediate danger

  • contact your airline or travel operator who can assist you with return travel to the UK

In addition, the General Secretariat of Civil Protection recommends citizens take extreme caution to avoid actions in the open air that can cause a fire by negligence, with some advice also applying to holidaymakers.

As well as advising against burning leaves and the use of machines that cause sparks, it is advised that people avoid using outdoor grills and the throwing of lit cigarettes on the ground. FCO further asks visitors to avoid littering, especially glass which is known to ignite fires.

Greece has been hit by its first summer heatwave, reportedly causing the deaths of several tourists as temperatures hit 40C. Euronews states that more visitors have gone missing and a 68-year old German man was found unresponsive on the island of Crete on Monday, June 24.

On Sunday, June 23, the body of an American tourist, aged 55, was found on the Greek island of Mathraki, the third tourist found in a week, ekathimerini reports. Prior to this, the Greek publication said that tourist sites like the Acropolis were forced to temporarily close, as well as schools.

This follows the passing of health expert and TV personality Michael Mosley, who was found on the Greek island of Symi on Sunday, June 5, after leaving his wife and friends at Agios Nikolaos beach on Wednesday, June 1. His body was discovered in a nearby town, alongside an umbrella he had been previously seen using to shield himself from the sun.

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