NEWS AND VIEWS – GREECE: The wildfires on the island of Rhodes, Greece, are all over the news media today because they are horrific. In the newspaper that I am reading, The Times, the articles concern the evacuation of tourist resorts by hordes of British tourists.
The article in commences: “Thousands walked for 12 hours under the blazing Greek sun, chased by the flames”. A good introduction by Tom Witherow. The British tourists are complaining that their representatives have not turned up to guide them as to what to do next. And neither has the Greek government.
It is the hotel administrators and local people who have stepped in to help them. Many are flying home at great expense and therefore breaking into their holiday. One couple used water-soaked T-shirts to cover their noses and mouths as a strong wind drove suffocating smoke and fire towards them. They walked for several miles and hitchhiked part of the way.
They managed to grab an evacuation bus and took refuge at another hotel, sleeping on their sun loungers. They made their way to the airport and booked a flight to France. Clearly, anything to get out of the country which is a great shame for the tourist businesses and roads.
This is a tweet from Twitter:
There needs to be far bigger/worse punishments for arsonists. These fires are devastating. The poor animals!! and people who have lost everything. It’s horrific From Greece, to Canada to the fires when I lived in LA. There are sick humans out thereTwitter
But this article is mainly concerned with the human-animal relationship and what is disturbing about this story is that there are now reports that firefighters are saying that there are indications of arson “in a shocking update”.
Firefighters believe that the fires may have been started on purpose. Vassilis Vathrakogiannis from the Rhodes Fire Department told reporters that the blistering heat wave may not be to blame or entirely to blame for the catastrophic wildfires. He said: “Fires are set by human hands. Whether it is due to negligence or fraud will be seen [but] people have been summoned for statements and others will be summoned”
One website describes the depressing scene of “burned vegetation and dead animals, the aftermath of the devastating wildfire sweeping across the Greece region”.
The Greek Special Secretariat for the Protection of Companion Animals said, “Don’t abandon your animals, don’t leave them helpless, tied and trapped in the areas affected by fires. Every life has value.”
That statement indicates that some Greek residents are abandoning their pets when they abandon their homes to escape the fires.
This wouldn’t be the first time because panic sets in and in the case of domestic cats, it can be very hard to find them because they hide under these circumstances.
The report is that dead animals can be seen alongside the island’s roadways. These are going to be wild animals whose precious habitat has been destroyed. And the map of the extent of the wildfires is shocking. They cover a very large area across a significant part of the island.
“We’re just in the middle of fire season, and we’re counting nearly 200,000 acres of burnt land,” World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Greece said. They added that humans cause 95% of wildfires. “Time we become the solution and not the problem.”