WATCH: Firefighting plane crashes in Greece's island of Rhodes

The airforce says that two helicopters rushed to the scene to carry out a search and rescue operation

By
Web Desk

A firefighter plane that was busy extinguishing wildfire in the Greek Islands of Rhodes crashed on the Island of Evia Tuesday as the uncontrollable blaze continues to destroy houses, triggering mass evacuation.

The footage aired by ERT showed the plane dropping water over a fire and then crashing into a hillside and bursting into flames.

According to the Greek air force, there were two airmen aboard the amphibious Canadair CL-215 plane when it crashed over the island of Evia, east of Athens.

The airforce stated that two helicopters rushed to the scene to carry out a search and rescue operation, however, it did not reveal what happened to the people onboard.

Hundreds of firefighters, helped by forces from Turkey and Slovakia, were battling blazes that have raged on the island of Rhodes since Wednesday and resurged in hot, windy conditions. More emergency flights were due to take home holidaymakers.

PM Mitsotakis said Tuesday the next few days would be difficult, with conditions possibly improving after Thursday.

"All of us are standing guard," he said adding that "in the face of what the entire planet is facing, especially the Mediterranean which is a climate change hot-spot, there is no magical defence mechanism, if there was we would have implemented it."

Prosecutors in Greece started a probe into the causes of the Rhodes wildfires and the preparedness and response of authorities, ERT said. 

It said about 10% of the island's land area had burned.

Rhodes is one the biggest islands of the country and is the top summer destination for millions of tourists.

About 20,000 people had to leave homes and hotels in Rhodes over the weekend as the inferno spread and reached coastal resorts on the verdant island's southeast, after charring land, killing animals, and damaging buildings.

After a blaze in the seaside town of Mati, east of Athens, in 2018 killed 104 people, Greece has taken a more proactive approach towards evacuations.

But critics maintain that it has not improved its ability to put out fires that are common in summer, though more intense in this year's heatwave.

Greece has seen very high temperatures in recent weeks and they are set to rise through Wednesday to exceed 44 Celsius (111.2 Fahrenheit) in some areas.