The scenes of tourists fleeing for their lives on a normally tranquil Greek island suddenly engulfed by flames could be from an over-the-top primetime television movie.
But this is real life.
Rhodes is famed for the ancient architectural treasures of its Old Town, skirted by rocky coves and beautiful sandy beaches.
But today, as fires continue to rage there and the sea turns black with soot, it’s the British Government and travel companies that are feeling the heat over their response to the crisis.
There is justified anger that some travel companies were flying people to the island as late as Saturday night.
Travel companies have been playing catch-up ever since.
Inevitably, a blame game has begun. One executive of a well-known travel company told me yesterday: ‘It’s not helpful to anybody that the Foreign Office is not regularly updating its advice about the areas affected by the fire.
‘It seems clear that holidays to those areas aren’t advisable but everyone, including insurance companies, is stuck without any change in advice.’
The truth is that the Foreign Office had downed tools for the weekend just as this crisis began. British citizens’ lives were in danger but the Government did not – and still has not – changed its advice about travel to Rhodes and other Greek islands where fires have broken out.
Its advice about visiting certain countries almost always errs on the side of extreme caution and yet on this occasion, it’s the complete opposite. The Government claims that it is exerting pressure on travel companies to look after their customers – but that isn’t a concrete policy.
The result? Uncertainty, chaos and confusion. It’s all very well for Rishi Sunak and his Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to tell people that they should keep in touch with their travel companies.
But even at the best of times it’s hard to get through to an airline or tour operator. Now, it’s almost impossible.
If the Government had advised people against travel to Rhodes on Saturday, at least those with travel insurance would have been reassured that they would be looked after financially should they cancel.
Perhaps Mr Cleverly and his work-from-home mandarins have been too busy planning their own summer holidays now that parliament is in recess.
Over the next few days, the Government has a chance to show some real leadership and, perhaps more importantly, genuine concern about thousands of its traumatised citizens stranded overseas.