July 26, 2021

Huge forest fire in Cyprus “under control”, authorities say

The massive fire that devastated entire swathes of the Troodos forest in Cyprus and left four people dead, is “Fully under control”, announced Monday, July 5, the authorities, nearly forty-eight hours after the outbreak of the disaster. It is the worst fire ever seen on the Mediterranean island.

Fire “Was completely mastered Monday at 8 am”, but given the scale of the fire, a large presence of firefighters was maintained in the area in case of possible outbreaks of fire, the forestry department said.

The fire broke out on Saturday afternoon north of the port city of Limassol (south) igniting the southern flank of the massif, the main green lung of this small member country of the European Union located in the south-east of the basin Mediterranean, which suffers from heat waves and increasingly marked episodes of drought. It then spread to eight other localities.

Four Egyptian workers, reported missing on Saturday, were killed, burned by the flames. Their vehicle, completely charred, was found in a ravine. Blocked by the fire, they left their car to flee on foot but were caught by the flames, six hundred meters further on, on the heights.

Dozens of homes and private property have been destroyed. In the Troodos massif, only burning ash and charred trees remain on the blackened mountain sides. Near the village of Ora, not far from the site of the fire, a farm of more than 50,000 chickens was decimated by the smoke, according to employees who live in front of the farm.

Over 55 square kilometers devastated

A 67-year-old man suspected of unintentionally causing the fire near the village of Arakapas was arrested and detained for eight days. A witness allegedly saw him leaving the scene in his car when the fire broke out, police said.

Faced with the scale of the disaster, the Cypriot authorities launched an appeal for international aid on Saturday evening. Water bombers sent from Israel and Greece, as well as British forces stationed at two sovereign bases on the island, participated in operations to extinguish the flames.

Cyprus experiences frequent forest fires during the long summer drought, which traditionally runs from June to October, in scorching temperatures. In recent days, temperatures have greatly exceeded 40 degrees Celsius.

The fire that broke out on Saturday has been described by authorities as one of the worst in recent history. ” It’s a tragedy “Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said on Twitter, indicating that “More than 55 square kilometers” had been devastated. “Lives, property, land and forests have been lost. The government will immediately help the victims and their relatives ”, he assured. An inventory and registration of damaged homes and properties for compensation has already started, authorities said.

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The World with AFP