Family demand answers after being flown to Rhodes amid wildfires

Horrified family demand answers from TUI after they were flown to Rhodes while wildfire was raging on the island only to be stranded at the airport and left to sleep on the floor with thousands of tourists

  • Wildfires on Rhodes have triggered the country’s largest disaster evacuation 

A British family have shared their horrific experiences in Greece after they say their travel agent flew them to Rhodes despite wildfires raging across the island.

Jess Bailey, a Devon councillor, flew to the island from Bristol Airport on July 22 with her husband and two daughters, 11 and 15.

She said the family arrived to chaos in the airport as wildfires have triggered the country’s largest disaster evacuation in history. 

Speaking to Devon Live, she said: ‘After a lot of hanging around we were brought to the evacuation centre.’

She added: ‘Why did TUI fly us and hundreds of other people in when hotels are cut off by wildfires? We spent the night with hundreds/ thousands of Brits in Rhodes evacuation centre and I didn’t sleep a wink. 

‘We have had totally useless communication from TUI. They emailed at 4.30am saying, “you may be experiencing some delays at the airport”, and that I can source my own transport to our hotel.’

Jess Bailey (bottom right) flew out to Rhodes with her family on Saturday

Wildfires burn forests in Rhodes, Greece, in this picture obtained from social media, July 23

TUI say they have reps on the ground to work with local authorities and help manage the logistics of people and food.

But holidaymakers stuck in Rhodes have described the scenes at the airport as ‘absolute pandemonium’.

Are you caught in the wildfires on Rhodes or Corfu? 

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Stranded families have told MailOnline how they were left ‘fighting for our lives’ to try and get onto boats as desperate tourists shoved children out of the way to to force themselves on board.

Distressed holidaymakers, including young children, have been pictured lying on the floor at Rhodes Airport.

Others were seen anxiously staring up at the departures board as they attempt to flee the ‘apocalyptic’ island. 

The Government said on Sunday afternoon it was ‘actively monitoring the fires in Rhodes’ and is in close contact with the local authorities. 

The Foreign Office has deployed a Rapid Deployment Team of five staff and four British Red Cross responders who have been pictured trying to help British nationals at the airport. 

Newlywed Andrew Brittan, 27, and his wife Emily travelled from the East Midlands to Rhodes for their honeymoon yesterday, unaware that it would become a holiday from hell. 

‘The first night of my honeymoon was spent on a mattress outside,’ Andrew told MailOnline from a refuge centre where generous locals have been donating mattresses to terrified tourists.

While they have been stuck in the baking heat with ‘hundreds’ of other tourists at one makeshift evacuation centre, other Brits have been desperately trying to escape the fire-ravaged island. 

Destroyed vehicles are seen as wildfires burn forests in Rhodes, Greece in this picture obtained from social media, July 23, 2023

A wildfire burns at the Trapeza village, in Achaia Peloponnese, Greece, 23 July 2023

Newlywed Andrew Brittan, 27, and his wife Emily, spent the first night of their honeymoon last night on a mattress outside a makeshift refuge centre. They were unable to go to their hotel after arriving in Rhodes as it had already been evacuated

Mother Abi James was holidaying with her husband, their friends and the couples’ two young sons when they saw flames approaching their hotel, and were forced to run for their lives.

The families, along with dozens of others, say they were told to stay put. But Abi’s maternal instinct kicked in and they fled on foot – walking around five miles in 42 degree heat to escape the raging flames yesterday. 

MailOnline contacted TUI for comment.