Smoke from a forest fire is seen in Ora village in Larnaca, in an image obtained from social media, July 3, 2021

Israel sending help as Cyprus battles 'worst forest fire in history'

Bennett says country dispatching two firefighting aircraft, joining teams from Greece and Italy to help contain blaze, which fanned by strong winds has affected communities in densely vegetated foothills of Troodos mountain range; smoke visible in capital Nicosia, some 75 km away

Ynet, Reuters |
Published: 07.04.21, 10:00
Israel was sending firefighting aircraft to Cyprus on Sunday as the country battled a huge forest fire raging north of the cities of Limassol and Larnaca, a blaze one official called the worst on record.
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  • "With fires raging in Cyprus, I agreed to send two firefighting planes from the National Fire and Rescue Authority tomorrow [Sunday] morning and assist the Cypriot and international forces in their firefighting efforts, in coordination with the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett wrote in Hebrew on Twitter late Saturday.
    3 View gallery
    Smoke from a forest fire is seen in Ora village in Larnaca, in an image obtained from social media, July 3, 2021
    Smoke from a forest fire is seen in Ora village in Larnaca, in an image obtained from social media, July 3, 2021
    Smoke from a forest fire is seen in Ora village in Larnaca, in an image obtained from social media, July 3, 2021
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also told his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides that Israel would do everything in its power to help bring the fires under control.
    Attempts were being made to prevent the blaze from crossing the mountains and stop it before reaching Machairas, a pine forestland and one of the highest peaks in Cyprus.
    "It is the worst forest fire in the history of Cyprus," Forestries Department Director Charalambos Alexandrou told Cyprus's Omega TV.
    Alexandrou said the perimeter of the fire was "at least 40 kilometers".
    Cyprus has previously sent assistance to Israel when it has battled similar massive brushfires.
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    A helicopter flies over a forest fire, in the Larnaca mountain region of Cyprus,  July 3, 2021
    A helicopter flies over a forest fire, in the Larnaca mountain region of Cyprus,  July 3, 2021
    A helicopter flies over a forest fire, in the Larnaca mountain region of Cyprus, July 3, 2021
    (Photo: EPA)
    The European Union on Saturday deployed aerial assistance to help Cyprus contain the blaze, which fanned by strong winds had affected at least six communities in the foothills of the Troodos mountain range, an area of pine forest and densely vegetated shrubland.
    The EU's executive, the European Commission, said fire-fighting planes had departed from Greece to battle the fire and Italy was also planning to deploy aerial fire-fighters.
    The EU's emergency Copernicus satellite was also activated to provide damage assessment maps of the affected areas, the Commission said in a statement.
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    A firefighter uses his mobile phone in village of Vavatsina in the Larnaca district of Cyrus, as efforts continue to control a giant wildfire raging in the mountainous area, July 3, 2021
    A firefighter uses his mobile phone in village of Vavatsina in the Larnaca district of Cyrus, as efforts continue to control a giant wildfire raging in the mountainous area, July 3, 2021
    A firefighter uses his mobile phone in village of Vavatsina in the Larnaca district of Cyprus, as efforts continue to control a giant wildfire raging in the mountainous area, July 3, 2021
    (Photo: AFP)
    Dozens of properties were damaged, but no injuries were reported. There were widespread power cuts in the area. Plumes of smoke were visible in the capital Nicosia, some 75 km (45 miles) away.
    "This is a very difficult day for Cyprus. All of the state's mechanisms are in gear, and the priority is for no loss of life," Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades tweeted.
    Cyprus has experienced a heatwave this week, with temperatures exceeding 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). Police said they were questioning a 67 year old person in connection with the blaze.
    "It passed through like a whirlwind, it destroyed everything," said Vassos Vassiliou, the community leader of Arakapas, one of the communities affected.

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