Two of Europe’s popular holiday destinations have been thrown into turmoil by a 6.7-magnitude earthquake, which struck in the early hours of July 21.
An ensuing tsunami also caused destruction in Greek island Kos and Turkish resort destination Bodrum, both close to the epicentre.
So far, two tourists are reported dead, and more than 100 have been injured.
The Independent says more than 8,000 British holidaymakers are currently in Kos, with further arrivals due this weekend.
“Aegean resorts are popular with Brits, and this year we’ve seen a 18% increase in searches for flights to that area for this summer – with many based on getting away this weekend,” said Phil Bloomfield, spokesperson for search engine Cheapflights.
But, if you’re booked on a holiday to Kos or Bodrum, is it still safe to travel?
What’s the situation on the ground?
Fearing aftershocks, many tourists fled hotels to sleep outdoors last night. While they may have woken up to scenes of destruction, a rescue operation is underway with the army supporting emergency services in Kos.
While there has been some damage to older buildings, new properties are designed to withstand earthquakes. Thomas Cook, who currently have 2,682 UK customers in Kos and 441 in Bodrum, reported no damage to their hotels in Turkey and “little impact” on those in Kos, with only one property no longer suitable for habitation. They have no reports of any injuries.
Kos airport closed briefly but has now reopened and flights are operating, although Eurocontrol, the European organisation for the safety of air navigation, reports big delays.
easyJet had one flight scheduled for Bodrum this morning, which departed as planned, and their next flight will depart for Kos tomorrow as scheduled.
Kos harbour is currently closed and guests due to travel to or from Kalymnos and Leros will be transferred using alternative ferry services.
What do the FCO advise?
The Foreign Office has updated its advice to Greece and Turkey, suggesting travellers should be aware of possible aftershocks. It warns of ferry and flight disruptions, and suggests travellers contact their carriers or tour operators for updates.
What should holidaymakers do now?
“Earthquakes are common in the region and authorities will be well practised in getting issues resolved,” said Cheapflight’s Phil Bloomfield. “But in the short term, there might be some disruption to flights to ensure no unnecessary risks are being taken with key transport links.”
ABTA, the association of tour operators, said its members are working with customers and staff on the ground and have not reported any casualties or injuries affecting UK holidaymakers.
“Tour operators are working alongside the local authorities to assess the damage, and will make arrangements to move customers should structural damage be found to their accommodation,” reported a spokesperson.
“Customers imminently due to travel to this region will be contacted by their tour operator, should it be necessary to discuss changes to their holiday arrangements.”
Olympic Holidays, a key operator selling holidays to the Greek islands, said: “Our thoughts are with those affected. We can confirm that all of our guests and staff currently on the islands are safe, and that our hotels and apartments where guests are staying are operating normally.”