Greece wildfires: climate crisis will ‘manifest itself everywhere with greater disasters’, says Greek PM – as it happened
Latest news: Kyriakos Mitsotakis tells parliament we are at war as nearly 2,500 people evacuated from Corfu Greeces prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has told parliament: For the next few weeks we must be on constant alert. We are at war, we will rebuild what we lost, we will compensate those who were hurt, Reuters reports. He added: The climate crisis is already here, it will manifest itself everywhere in the Mediterranean with greater disasters. Tour operators flew home nearly 1,500 holidaymakers at the start of a mass evacuation from wildfires on the Greek island of Rhodes on Monday, Reuters said. Officials said the threat of further fires was high in almost every region of the country. Ryanair said its flights to and from Rhodes were operating as normal and it was monitoring the situation on Monday. The airlines chief executive, Michael OLeary, said Ryanair had not seen passengers seeking to cancel flights to Rhodes over the weekend, given fires were more in the south of the island and the airport and most resorts in the north. Thats all for today, thanks for following along. Heres a summary of the day as a heatwave spreads across north Africa and southern Europe, and efforts to contain wildfires across Greece continued for a seventh straight day. Firefighters in Greece were struggling to contain 82 wildfires across the country, 64 of which started on Sunday, the hottest day of the summer so far. As well as huge blazes on the island of Rhodes, which forced 19,000 people to flee , wildfires also broke out on the island of Corfu and in the northern Peloponnese region, triggering further evacuations. Greeces prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, told parliament: For the next few weeks we must be on constant alert. We are at war, we will rebuild what we lost, we will compensate those who were hurt. The climate crisis is already here, it will manifest itself everywhere in the Mediterranean with greater disasters, he said. Wildfires killed 25 people in the mountainous Bejaia and Bou ira regions of Algeria on Monday, the interior ministry said, as a heatwave spreads across north Africa and southern Europe. Authorities evacuated nearly 2,500 people from the Greek island of Corfu on Monday as the prime minister warned the heat-hit country was at war with several wildfires. While wildfires raged on the Greek islands Rhodes and Corfu, with thousands of British tourists thought to be there, the UK government continued to refuse to advise against travel to the country. Irelands deputy prime minister has said that a refund would be the proper approach for those who want to cancel their holidays in Greek regions affected by wildfires. The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Foreign Office to add Rhodes to to its red list and advise British nationals against all but essential travel. The European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, has contacted the Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis , to offer additional assistance. The Foreign Office minister Andrew Mitchell told BBC Radio 4s Today programme the situation on Rhodes was undoubtedly a wakeup call on the climate crisis. Climate change is real. It is now. And it is essential that the world combats it, and Britain is playing a leading role in doing that, he said. Rishi Sunak has signalled the UK government could delay or even abandon green policies that impose a direct cost on consumers, as he comes under pressure from the Conservative right to create a dividing line with Labour at the next election. Tourists planning trips to the Mediterranean should see the Greek wildfires as a big, big warning, with the climate crisis highly likely to fuel more severe blazes in future, one of the UKs leading climate scientists said. Up to 10,000 Britons are estimated to be on fire-ravaged Rhodes , with repatriation flights to rescue holidaymakers landing back in the UK. Three repatriation flights to return hundreds of holidaymakers from Rhodes are planned on Monday evening, Jet2 said. An easyJet spokesperson said the airline was doing all it could to help customers in Rhodes and invited those due to travel to or from the island until Saturday to change the date for free. Jet2, which has cancelled all flights and holidays due to depart to Rhodes up to and including Sunday, has significantly increased the number of its staff on the island. A Tui spokesperson said all outbound flights to Rhodes up to and including Tuesday had been cancelled and passengers due to travel on these flights would receive full refunds. Emergency teams in Canada are still searching for four people who went missing in flooding after more than 200mm (7.87in) of rain fell in some parts of Nova Scotia at the weekend. Two children, a young person and a man were inside two vehicles when the road they were travelling on suddenly became submerged, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Nova Scotia. Read more here: The Dutch foreign affairs ministry has warned of travel risks for the Greek islands of Rhodes, Corfu and Evia, moving the advisory colour code to yellow from green because of wildfires. Twenty-five people including 10 soldiers have been killed in forest fires in in the mountainous regions of Bejaia and Bouira, Algerian authorities have said, as a heatwave spreads across north Africa and southern Europe . About 7,500 firefighters were trying to bring the flames under control, authorities said. The interior ministry said it was continuing its firefighting operations in the Boumerdes, Bouira, Tizi Ouzou, Jijel, Bejaia and Skikda regions, Reuters reports. About 1,500 people have been evacuated so far. A major heatwave is sweeping across north Africa, with temperatures of 49C (120F) recorded in some cities in neighbouring Tunisia. In Tunisia, wildfires swept through the border town of Melloula. Witnesses told Reuters that fires that had begun in mountainous areas had reached some peoples homes in the town and forced hundreds of families to flee. A civil protection official said hundreds of people had been evacuated from the town by land, and and by sea in fishing and coastguard vessels. Fires appear to be raging out of control on the Greek island of Evia, with officials speaking of a nightmarish situation in the wooded villages above the coastal town of Karystos. Near-gale winds were propelling flames into inhabited areas, the Evias vice-prefect, Giorgos Kelaiditis, told the state news agency in the last hour. The situation is nightmarish for the villages of Platanistos and Potami because the fire has got into courtyards, it has burned livestock pens, and strong winds continue to push flames into residential areas. Media reported a livestock farmer missing. Famous for its honey and Greeces third largest Isle, Evia was the scene of some of the worst forest fires in living memory in 2021. Evacuation orders had been issued ahead if the flames barrelling towards residential areas. A couple from Norwich were forced to evacuate from a wedding party at which they were guests by the wildfires in Rhodes on Saturday. Dominic Doggett, 30, and his fiancee Hannah Dolman, 28, had to stay on the floor of an office in a hotel after the wedding do came to an abrupt end. After arriving at Gatwick airport, Doggett told PA Media: Mid-afternoon at the wedding, we got a notification that said some areas were being evacuated. With it being a wedding, we tried to keep the bride and groom unaware and stay as happy as possible. Later in the evening... we got a further notification on our phones from the alert system to say our area was also being evacuated. The music cut and the lights came on and the staff said we needed to leave. The wedding was due to finish at 2am but it finished three hours early. Irelands deputy prime minister has said that a refund would be the proper approach for those who want to cancel their holidays in Greek regions affected by wildfires. The tanaiste and minister for foreign affairs, Micheal Martin, said Irish embassies and his department had received a number of queries from citizens, and advised them to listen to the Greek authorities advice. He said the department is increasing capacity to reach Irish citizens affected by wildfires in Greece . Nearly 20,000 people, many of them tourists, are being evacuated from the island of Rhodes as large fires swept down from the mountains towards the south-western coastal resort towns. Warnings of similar wildfire threats in Corfu and Evia have also been issued. Climate experts have warned that extreme temperatures in the Mediterranean are more likely in the coming years due to greenhouse gases emitted by human activity heating the Earths atmosphere. Asked about the issue at the Curragh Camp in County Kildare on Monday, Martin advised Irish citizens to take advice from the Greek authorities. We would say to people in the area, as we have been doing in the Department of Foreign Affairs, to contact your tour operator, he said. Take all advice from the authorities. Evacuate when youre asked to evacuate and dont hesitate. We have received queries from a number of Irish nationals on the island and were increasing our capacity to the region in terms of helping Irish citizens who are in challenging circumstances or in difficulties, and liaising with the authorities to facilitate Irish citizens. He said this included logistics and emergency passports where originals had been left in hotels during evacuations. Asked whether people should be compensated for choosing not to travel to regions due to wildfires, Martin said a refund would be the proper approach there. I think safety first, and we need to work with all stakeholders to make sure we prioritise taking decisions on the basis of safety and protection of human life, he said. Authorities evacuated nearly 2,500 people from the Greek island of Corfu on Monday as the prime minister warned that the heat-battered country was at war with several wildfires. Tens of thousands of people have already fled blazes on the island of Rhodes, with many frightened tourists scrambling to get home on evacuation flights, AFP reports. About 2,400 visitors and locals were evacuated from the Ionian island of Corfu from Sunday through until Monday, a fire service spokesperson said, adding that the departures were a precaution. We are at war and are exclusively geared towards the fire front, the Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, told the parliament in Athens, warning that the nation faced another three difficult days ahead before high temperatures are forecast to ease. Greece has been sweltering under a lengthy spell of extreme heat that has increased wildfire risk and left visitors stranded in the peak tourist season. Because of the wildfires, an annual celebration on Monday to mark the 1974 restoration of democracy in Greece was cancelled. Firefighters in Greece were struggling to contain 82 wildfires across the country, 64 of which started on Sunday, the hottest day of the summer so far. As well as huge blazes on the island of Rhodes, which forced 19,000 people to flee , wildfires also broke out on the island of Corfu and in the northern Peloponnese region, triggering further evacuations. Guardian Australia asked seven leading climate scientists to describe how they felt as much of the northern hemisphere is engulfed by blistering heatwaves , and a number of global land and ocean climate records are broken. What is playing out all over the world right now is entirely consistent with what scientists expect. No one wants to be right about this. But if Im honest, I am stunned by the ferocity of the impacts we are currently experiencing. I am really dreading the devastation I know this El Nino will bring. As the situation deteriorates, it makes me wonder how I can be most helpful at a time like this. Do I keep trying to pursue my research career or devote even more of my time to warning the public? The pressure and anxiety of working through an escalating crisis is taking its toll on many of us. - Dr Joelle Gergis, senior lecturer in climate science Fenner School of Environment and Society, associate investigator ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes at the Australian National University We knew by the mid-1990s that lurking in the tails of our climate model projections were monsters: monstrous heatwaves, catastrophic extreme rainfall and floods, subcontinental-scale wildfires, rapid ice sheet collapse raising sea level metres within a century. We knew just like we know gravity that Australias Great Barrier Reef could be one of the earliest victims of uncontained global warming. But as todays monstrous, deadly heatwaves overtake large parts of Asia, Europe and North America with temperatures the likes of which we have never experienced, we find even 1.2C of global warming isnt safe. - Bill Hare, physicist and climate scientist and chief executive of Climate Analytics Read more here. A British court has dismissed a lawsuit that accuse s Shells leadership of mismanaging climate risks to the oil firm, but the activist investor group that brought it plans to appeal. Corporations have faced a growing number of climate-related lawsuits in recent years as they come under pressure to step up efforts to curb global warming. Shell was already ordered by a Dutch court in 2021 to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by the end of the decade after it was sued by environmental groups. This time, ClientEarth, an environmental law NGO and a minor Shell shareholder, filed in February a lawsuit in the high court of England and Wales against Shell bosses for failing to manage the material and foreseeable risks posed to the company by climate change, AFP reports. But the judges dismissed the case, once in May and and again on Monday after a hearing earlier in July. ClientEarth said it was disappointed by the dismissal and plans to appeal. A Shell spokesperson said the dismissal was the right outcome, adding that the court had reaffirmed its decision that the claim was fundamentally flawed. The company said ClientEarths claim entirely ignored how directors of a business as large and complex as Shell must balance a range of competing considerations. At its annual shareholders meeting in May, Shells management received majority backing even though there were disruptions and doubts expressed about its climate transition. The company later announced a change of plans: instead of gradually reducing oil output it would hold it steady until 2030. ClientEarths senior lawyer Paul Benson said in statement: The boards strategy to manage the risks of the energy transition was fundamentally flawed as it was. Now the board seems to be dropping even any pretence that it will take meaningful action. Shell said on Monday that decision reflected the fact it had already met its 2030 goal of reducing oil production by 26% from the 2019 level. ClientEarth says Shells flawed climate strategy is inconsistent with the 2015 Paris agreement and jeopardises the companys future commercial success, and thus constitutes a breach of its legal duties under English company law. Benson said: The boards refusal to take decisive action to prepare the company for the fast-advancing energy transition puts Shells future commercial viability at risk. According to ClientEarth, this is the first time a company board has been targeted by a lawsuit for failing to properly handle the climate transition. Shells first-quarter net profit surged 22% to $8.7bn (6.8bn) but has indicated its second quarter performance has been hit by a drop in gas sales. Rishi Sunak has signalled the UK government could delay or even abandon green policies that impose a direct cost on consumers, as he comes under pressure from the Conservative right to create a dividing line with Labour at the next election. The prime minister said the drive to reach the UKs net zero targets should not unnecessarily give people more hassle and more costs in their lives, as he rethought his green agenda after the Tories won last weeks Uxbridge and Ruislip byelection . His official spokesperson confirmed the government would continually examine and scrutinise measures including phasing out gas boilers by 2035, energy efficiency targets for private rented homes and low traffic neighbourhoods. Read more here: Here are the latest images coming across the wires from the Greek island of Rhodes: A Swedish court has fined the climate activist Greta Thunberg for disobeying police during an environmental protest at an oil facility last month. Thunberg, 20, admitted to the facts but denied guilt, saying the fight against the fossil fuel industry was a form of self-defence because of the existential and global threat of the climate crisis, AP reports. We cannot save the world by playing by the rules, she told journalists after hearing the verdict, vowing she would definitely not back down. The court rejected her argument and fined her 2,500 kronor (about 190). Charges were brought against Thunberg and several other youth activists from the Reclaim the Future movement for refusing a police order to disperse after blocking road access to an oil terminal in Malmo on 19 June. Irma Kjellstrom, a spokesperson for Reclaim the Future, said: If the court sees our actions of self-defence as a crime, thats how it is. Kjellstrom, who was also present at the June protest, added: [Activists] have to be exactly where the harm is being done. The sentencing appeared to have little effect on their determination just a few hours later, Thunberg and Reclaim the Future activists returned to the oil terminal to stage to another roadblock. Adam Walker, 33, a business analyst from Telford, flew to Rhodes on Friday night with his wife, mother-in-law and two young children, for a holiday in the beach resort of Pefkos on the eastern coast of the island. We arrived at 2am on Saturday. When we were in the pool that afternoon we could see smoke in the distance, and a red glow on top of the hill. There was ash falling on us during dinner. At midnight on Saturday, we were told by text message to leave our hotel and move to the beach. It was absolute chaos, he said. There was mixed messaging about whether to take bags or not. After about half an hour we were told to walk about half a kilometre to the top of the hill with our bags, but there was no information from anyone about where we were going. Everyone was upset as they were trying to figure out where to send people as it was happening. Eventually, Walker said, buses came and took scores of holidaymakers to Rhodes town. We were left at a school, where we got our towels and clothes out and lay on tiles. There were power cuts and at times no running water, with toilets overflowing. Walker was disappointed to find that there was no direct support and communication from his travel operator during the evacuation. There were no representatives anywhere. We were helped by local Greek volunteers, lots of students turned up at some point. There wasnt much sleeping going on, he said. Walker added that his family had no idea there were fires raging in the area before they set off from the UK: We hadnt seen it at all on the news. It all kicked off properly the day we landed. The family spent all day at the school and were told on Sunday evening that they would be able to board a plane back to the UK free of charge. At some point on Sunday, people were told they could go back to the resort [by the travel operator], which some people did before being evacuated again, Walker said. We didnt know where the flights were going in the UK, and were asked to put down a preference for where we wanted to go. The family arrived back in Birmingham on Monday morning, with some of their belongings still at the Lindia Thalassa hotel in Pefkos. Walker said he was yet to contact the travel company for a refund. We didnt have time to pack everything, he said. I know you cannot plan for the fires, and understand this years fires are extreme, but they could have had an evacuation plan in place in case something like this happened. Theres probably going to be more of these fires in future. A woman celebrating her honeymoon on Rhodes has spoken of her traumatic experience after she and her husband were forced to evacuate their hotel on Saturday. Claire Jones , 36, and her husband, Paul , also 36, were evacuated by coach from the Village Rhodes beach resort near Lardos. They were driven to another beach, where they were placed on three different boats to escape from the wildfires. She told the PA news agency: It was really quite traumatic driving to where we went because you could see everyone fleeing their hotels, and people were walking along the beaches, walking along the roads, and they had babies and small children. Before the coaches arrived, Jones recalled: When we got to the car park and you could see the fires getting closer and closer and closer, and the coaches werent turning up [...] that was really worrying. When we first got on the coach, that was the most scary, because I thought if that wind blows towards us, that fire is going to hit this coach. Jones added that she and her husband were very lucky as they managed to flee to Faliraki in the north of the island, where they had planned to stay later in their trip. All Thomas Cook customers who had to leave their accommodation in Rhodes over the weekend are either returning home or staying in another hotel. The travel firm said about 50 customers were forced to evacuated because of the wildfires that have hit part of the island, PA reports. In a statement, it went on: We no longer have any customers in evacuation centres. We are in touch with customers who arrived on the island yesterday to areas unaffected by the fire and they are enjoying their holiday. We will continue to monitor the situation and work with our local partners and local authorities to ensure the safety of our customers. We are extending our policy for offering full and swift refunds to customers who are due to travel to Rhodes up to and including Wednesday 26 July and no longer wish to do so. The Liberal Democrats are calling on the Foreign Office to add Rhodes to to its red list - and advise British nationals against all but essential travel, the BBC reports. Thanks to Conservative ministers inaction, many families are unable to make a claim against their insurance leaving them paying the penalty for deciding not to fly out to the island, the Lib Dems foreign affairs spokesperson said in a statement.