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British couple forced to spend first night of honeymoon on mattress

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Resorts evacuated as blaze rages out of control on Greek island of Rhodes

A young newlywed couple have spent the first night of their honeymoon “on a mattress outside” alongside hundreds of other stranded tourists. 

Newlywed Andrew Brittan, 27, and his wife Emily, travelled from the East Midlands to Greek island of Rhodes for their honeymoon on Saturday (July 23), unaware of wildfires that have been steadily engulfing the area over the past six days. 

They spent £2,000 on a luxury stay at the Finas Hotel and Apartments on the island and had been reassured by their flight provider TUI that the situation was “fine” despite the fires.

But when they arrived, they were put on a bus and driven straight to an evacuation camp, where they were forced to sleep outside. 

The Greek Ministry of Climate Change and Civil Protection have said the past 24 hours have involved “the largest evacuation from a wildfire in the country”.

READ MORE easyJet refuses to stop flying Brit tourists to Rhodes despite wildfire chaos

Speaking from a refuge centre filled with mattresses donated by generous locals, Mr Brittan described to MailOnline how his and his wife’s honeymoon had turned into a holiday from hell. 

He said: “’We arrived and got sent onto a bus being told we would go to our hotel. Instead we were driven to an evacuation camp.

“We then had to line up and get registered. We were told to go into the building but it was so cramped that we decided to camp outside with some friends we made from Scotland.

“I’m on 20 minutes sleep and covered in bites as the bed was covered with ants!”

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During their outbound flight, the couple said their flight provider had made an announcement to say that the situation in Rhodes was “fine”. 

“TUI thought all the hotels were fine and we would have a good holiday,” he said.

But only hours later, he was sharing a camp with “hundreds” of others and preparing to “spend another night” there. 

Package holiday companies TUI and Jet2 have now cancelled all flights to Rhodes. Jet2 said it was cancelling five regularly scheduled passenger flights to the island on Sunday but would fly the planes to Rhodes empty to retrieve customers.  TUI said it was cancelling all its flights to the island until at least Tuesday.

Greek police said 6,000 people had been evacuated by land and 3,000 by sea from 12 villages and several hotels over the weekend. 

Six people were briefly treated at a hospital for respiratory problems. A person who fell and broke a leg during a hotel evacuation and a pregnant woman remained hospitalised, the latter in good condition, authorities said. No fatalities have been reported. 

The British ambassador to Greece, Matthew Lodge, said the UK Government was sending a rapid deployment team to support British nationals on Rhodes.

The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that personnel were on their way to Rhodes to set up a help desk at Rhodes International Airport for visitors who have lost their travel documents.

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