Wildfires sweeping through southern Greece, close to the capital of Athens, have claimed 49 lives, raising safety fears for thousands of British tourists due travel to the country this summer.
According to emergency services, the fires happened “very fast” as a result of prolonged heatwaves in the country and took locals by surprise. The total number of casualties is expected to rise further in the coming days.
British nationals make more than 3 million visits to Greece every year, with around 380 direct weekly flights from the UK. But is it still safe to go this summer, and will operators still be running flights and pre-booked arrangements?
The UK Foreign Office has said: “[The fires] have been confined to limited areas, but within those the impact has been high, with significant loss of life.”
In spite of this, they say most visits to Greece, and the capital, are unaffected. The statement does suggest holidaymakers should keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of authorities on the ground.
For those flying from the UK, no flights have been cancelled yet.
A spokesperson for EasyJet said: “Flights to and from Athens are currently operating as normal however we continue to closely monitor the situation and the advice provided by the relevant authorities.
“Any customers who are booked to travel to Athens in the next seven days can transfer for free to another date or another route within the next three months, or alternatively can request a flight voucher to the value of their unused flights.”
If you are already in Greece and need the emergency services, the number to call is 112.
Calling 999 from a UK mobile in Greece will automatically transfer you to the Greek emergency services.
The fires in the in the seaside village of Mati have been the worst in the country devastated the southern Peloponnese peninsula in August 2007, killing dozens.
Greece issued an urgent appeal for help to tackle the blaze. Cyprus and Spain offered assistance after Greece said it needed air and land assets from European Union partners.
If you’ve been affected by the wildfires and need consular assistance, you can call the British Embassy in Athens on +30 210 7272 600. And if you’re in the UK and worried about a British national in Greece, call the FCO on 020 7008 1500.