Wildfire forces evacuation of 2,000 people on Rhodes island

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A wildfire that broke out on the Greek island of Rhodes on Sunday has forced the evacuation of about 2,000 people, including tourists, local authorities said.

The fire started in a forested area near the village of Archangelos, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) south of the capital, Rhodes city, and spread quickly due to strong winds and high temperatures.

The fire service said it had deployed 56 firefighters, 21 vehicles, two helicopters and two planes to battle the blaze, which threatened homes and businesses in several villages.

The regional governor of the South Aegean islands, George Hatzimarkos, said the situation was “very difficult” and urged residents and visitors to follow the instructions of the authorities.

“We are facing a huge ecological disaster in one of the most beautiful areas of our island,” he said in a statement.

He said the evacuation was a precautionary measure and that no injuries or fatalities had been reported.

The Greek civil protection agency said it had activated the European Union’s civil protection mechanism to request additional firefighting assistance from other member states.

Greece is facing one of its worst heat waves in decades, with temperatures expected to reach 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) in some areas this week.

The country is also grappling with a series of wildfires that have burned thousands of hectares of land across the mainland and the islands.

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