Huge fires have been tearing through pine forests in the mountainous areas of Cyprus. Officials have asked for help from other nations, saying the blaze is the worst in decades.
The fire started around midday on Saturday amid a heatwave, with temperatures exceeding 40C (104F). Strong winds spread the fires on Sunday, affecting an area of over 50 square kilometers (19 square miles), Reuters reported.
At least 10 communities have been affected, and villages are being evacuated. Four bodies have been found near Odou village in the Larnaca district, believed to belong to workers from Egypt who went missing in the area.
While the official cause of the fire is still unclear, there are reports that a 67-year-old person has been questioned by police in connection with the disaster.
Another sad day in the history of this wonderful place we live in. When will we learn how to respect nature? ? Our prayers, and appreciation go out to those fighting the forest fires. Thank YOU ? #fire #Forestfire #prayforcyprus #Cyprus pic.twitter.com/EfRkJDpwA0
— Kratinos Socratous (@Kratinos) July 4, 2021
“It’s one of the most destructive [fires] we have experienced,” Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades told the media upon visiting the area. He also reassured the affected communities of support, writing on Twitter that the tragedy is the largest of its kind since 1974.
— Nikolaos Stelya(Stelgias) (@nikolaosstelya) July 3, 2021
The Troodos mountain range in the western part of Cyprus suffered badly, with many of its pine forests and fruit tree orchards burnt to ashes. “It burnt everything,” a devastated local farmer told the media, adding that “it will take them at least 10 years to grow back.”
Tragic day for our #Cyprus
Huge wild fires out of control; villages being evacuated.
Herculean efforts . Authorities can no longer cope.
— Euripides L Evriviades ???? (@eevriviades) July 3, 2021
Firefighting planes have been sent from Greece, while British military aircraft from their bases in Cyprus are joining in to fight the flames. Italy and Israel have also pledged to help.