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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 July 2007, 18:14 GMT 19:14 UK
Tourists flee Greek island fires
Map of Greece
Hundreds of holidaymakers have been evacuated from hotels on the Greek island of Skiathos to escape raging forest fires.

Many families fled to beaches as the fire came down to the water's edge, fanned by strong winds.

The three resorts affected were Aghia Paraskevi, Troulos and Kolios, on the southern part of the island.

There were no reports of casualties, and many of those affected are due to fly home on Friday.

It is unclear whether flights will be leaving for Skiathos from the UK.

"We believe everyone is all right and all have been taken to other accommodation," said Federation of Tour Operators' spokesman Graham Lancaster.

"We understand that there has been some damage to hotels but we don't know if anyone has lost possessions," he said.

'Burned sunbeds'

The blaze began at 0430 GMT and was still reported to be burning in the early afternoon.

Fire on Mount Parnitha - 28/06/2007
More than 120 fires have broken out across Greece, officials say
British tourists on the heavily-wooded island of Skiathos described the progress of the fire as absolutely terrifying.

One holidaymaker, Ian Watts, was woken up by the manager of his hotel and told to get out as quickly as possible, with the flames about 45m (50 yards) away.

He and his girlfriend grabbed their valuables and fled to the island's main town. Mr Watts said the fire was consuming about 500m of forest every hour.

Guests at the nearby Skiathos Princess Hotel in the village of Aghia Paraskevi were told to abandon their rooms and take their belongings to the beach.

Helen Edmundson described how the flames came down to the far end of the beach and burned sunbeds.

About 500 tourists, including families with children, sheltered on the waterfront. One four-star hotel, the Atrium, was reported to be in peril from the flames.

'Never-ending fires'

The BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Athens says it looks as though the experience of the tourists on Skiathos is very similar to that of holidaymakers in Halkidiki last summer, when thousands were trapped on beaches as woodland burned out of control.

Greece has been afflicted by a seemingly never-ending series of fires this summer, our correspondent says.

On Wednesday, three firefighters on the island of Crete were killed when they were trapped by swirling flames suddenly changing direction in powerful winds.


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