NewsLocalHuge forest blaze in Cyprus under control, fire-fighting planes made the difference

Huge forest blaze in Cyprus under control, fire-fighting planes made the difference

A two-day-long huge forest blaze in Cyprus which killed four people, destroyed homes and forced evacuations of villages has come under control, police said early on Monday.

Fire-fighting planes deployed to the Mediterranean island from neighbouring Greece, Israel and other EU countries had made the difference, Philenews reported.  Aircraft from British military bases in Cyprus also contributed.

The EU’s emergency Copernicus satellite was activated to provide damage assessment maps of the affected areas, the Commission has said in a statement.

At the same time, the Egyptian government said the four dead were agricultural workers from the North African country.

And Nicosia vowed in a tweet to “stand by the victims’ families in the face of this tragedy, offering every support”.

Fanned by strong winds, the fire broke out in Arakapas village on Saturday afternoon and swept through the southern foothills of the Troodos mountains as the country grappled with a blistering heatwave.

At least 25 buildings were damaged or destroyed, nine of them in Arakapas.

More than 50 square kilometres of forest and farmland had been destroyed.

Thick gnarled trunks of ancient olive trees, emblematic of the holiday island, were reduced to smouldering stumps.

Firefighters brought the main fire under control on Sunday, authorities said, while warning that strengthening winds could yet propel a resurgence.

The four Egyptians’ charred bodies were found outside the village of Odos in Larnaca district.

Their burnt-out vehicle was found at the bottom of a ravine and the four bodies some 600 metres away. A policeman at the scene said that they appeared to have fled the vehicle on foot but run in the direction of the wind-fanned flames, in a doomed attempt to escape.

A 67-year-old farmer was arrested and remanded in custody on suspicion of starting the blaze. He was seen by an eyewitness leaving the village of Arakapas in his car at the same time the fire started there on Saturday, police said.

He could face charges of recklessly causing the deaths of the four Egyptians, police added.

 

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