News Local Cyprus sending fire fighting aircraft to help tackle wildfires in Israel (photos)

Cyprus sending fire fighting aircraft to help tackle wildfires in Israel (photos)

Cyprus sent two fire fighting aircraft of the Forestry Department to Israel to help battle wildfires raging in the neighbouring country.

The two aircraft, each with a two member crew, flew to Haifa on Friday morning. A four member support team from the Forestry Department also departed for Israel on the same day.

Forestry Department head Charalambos Alexandrou said Cypriot authorities are ready to assist further should this be requested and a team of 60 officers is on standby.

The Cyprus News Agency said that Israel asked the Republic of Cyprus to make the two aircraft available to fight multiple fires. Another two firefighting airplanes are one their way from Italy, the spokesman of the Israeli Foreign Ministry Emmanial Nahson said on Twitter.

 

Croatia and Greece are also sending fire fighting airplanes.

Wildfires have scorched swathes of forests in central Israel, forcing some small towns to be evacuated, during a heatwave that brought record temperatures to parts of the country.

Rescue efforts on Thursday focused on a wooded area between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, where ground teams and airplane tankers fought back the flames for hours. By nightfall, the fires were mostly under control, according to police.

Some 3,500 residents of small towns were evacuated, officials said. More than a dozen houses burned down, local media reported.

Jerusalem, which sits higher up on hilltops, recorded temperatures of 37.5 degrees Celsius. Moving west toward the Mediterranean, the heat grew much more stifling. One town near Tel Aviv hit 43.5 degrees Celsius, according to the Israel Meteorological Service.

The heatwave was expected to continue into Friday, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached out to nearby countries to see if they could help if the wildfires worsen, Reuters reported.

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