Firefighters in Cyprus said on Monday they had brought under control the island’s worst blaze on record, which ripped through mountain forests and farmland,and destroying scores of homes. The Cyprus Forestry Department said, “the fire that broke out on Saturday… came under full control today” on Monday morning local time. Water-bombing planes from Greece and Israel and British aircraft from bases on the Mediterranean island helped douse the enormous fire, which blackened 55 square kilometers of the Troodos Mountains.
The fire – described by the forestry department as the worst since the Republic of Cyprus’ establishment in 1960 – killed four Egyptian laborers, destroyed 50 homes, damaged power lines, and forced the evacuation of 10 villages. Everything was a nightmare and pure hell here; the town was surrounded by fire,” said Akis Giorgio, 45, from the hamlet of Arakapas.
By late Sunday afternoon, thea “reduction of (fire) outbreaks” thanks to “effective water drops by Greek and Israeli aircraft”.
“It is a tragedy,”on Twitter, describing it as “the largest fire since 1974” when the island was divided after Turkey occupied its northern third.
According to the forestry department, the blaze destroyed 55 square kilometers of forest and farmland.
Thick gnarled trunks of ancient olive trees, emblematic of the holiday island, were reduced to smoldering stumps. Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said the four laborers’outside the village of Odos in the Larnaca district. Their burnt-out vehicle was found at the bottom of a ravine, and the four bodies were some 600 meters away. A policeman at the scene AFP 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.
Farmer denies sparking the blaze.
In areas where the fire had been tamed, grey ash. A 67-year-old farmer was arrested and remanded in custody on suspicion of causing the blaze, a charge he denied.
Police said an eyewitness had seen him leaving the village of Arakapas in his car when the fire started there. He could of recklessly causing the four deaths.
On Sunday morning, the CNA news agency reported, Mr. Anastasiades visited a crisis management center in the village of Vavatsinia, a few kilometers east of the blaze.