Rain douses Cyprus wildfire that burned thousands of acres

2. Cyprus Fires
A forest fire rages in the Kyrenia mountains in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus late on June 24, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
NICOSIA/KANTÁRA, Cyprus — Firefighting aircraft from both sides of divided Cyprus on Thursday battled a blaze that scorched mountainsides and forced the evacuation of villages.اضافة اعلان

Fanned by strong winds, the fire spread rapidly overnight after breaking out earlier in the week in the Kantara area of the Kyrenia mountain range in the breakaway Turkish Cypriot statelet of northern Cyprus, media reports said.

In the end, it was Mother Nature that extinguished a wildfire that scorched thousands of hectares and forced the evacuation of villages in the north of divided Cyprus, officials said Saturday.

Aircraft from both sides of Cyprus, as well as British military and Israeli personnel, had responded to calls for help to fight the fire which began Tuesday in the Kantara area of the Kyrenia mountain range.

“The fire ... has been extinguished to a large extent with the effect of the rain that fell last night,” said Unal Ustel, prime minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by Ankara.

“We have survived a great disaster.”

There had been no reports of casualties but Turkish Cypriot authorities said about 8,000 hectares had been burned.

Helicopters were still dropping water onto the burning ridge lines on Friday, before intense rains fell overnight.

Forestry department head Cemil Karzaoglu said the fire was completely under control and mopping up operations were continuing where smoke was still visible.

Ustel expressed gratitude to “the British Base Area, Israel, and the Greek Cypriot administration for their support in extinguishing the fire from the air”.

The UN peacekeeping force said it coordinated the firefighting response.

According to Cypriot media reports earlier, at least four villages were evacuated.

Emergency services from Israel and the UK’s Sovereign Base Areas on the eastern Mediterranean island often help fight Cyprus’s frequent wildfires.

In July last year, blazes that broke out in the Larnaca and Limassol regions claimed the lives of four Egyptian farmworkers and destroyed more than 4,800 hectares.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish forces occupied the northern part of the island in response to a military coup sponsored by the junta in power in Greece at the time.

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