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19 June, 2024
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International aid rushed to tackle wildfire in mountain communities

Ground forces battle to contain flames as aerial support arrives from Greece and Lebanon


A wildfire that ignited between the communities of Korfi, Alassa, and Iasia at noon on Sunday continues to rage out of control, posing a severe threat to the region. The fire has led to evacuations and widespread smoke, reaching as far as the city of Limassol itself.

As the blaze spread throughout the area on Sunday, the fire brigade's efforts were bolstered by several ordinary citizens who selflessly joined the firefighting operations. However, despite their efforts, the fire remains untamed.

Now, as the raging wildfire enters its second day, powerful ground forces are intensifying their efforts to contain the flames that rekindled in the Alassa area. The firefighting operation has received critical reinforcements with aerial support from Greece and Lebanon, and the activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism following Cyprus's request for assistance. In addition, Israel has been approached for further aid.

Earlier on Sunday, authorities issued evacuation instructions for the villages of Apsiou and Mathikoloni, and later extended them to Lasia, as a precautionary measure due to the escalating fire. The Minister of Agriculture has expressed particular concern for Apsiou, where the greatest danger currently lies.

The residents of the evacuated villages have sought refuge at the Limnati Cultural Centre, where efforts were made to accommodate them and provide necessary assistance.

Monday morning updates:

09:27 - Alexandrou: Eastern Front Shows Positive Progress

Charalambos Alexandrou, Director of the Forestry Department, provided an update on the situation Monday morning. He stated that the situation on the eastern front of the fire is very promising, and there is currently no sign of the fire expanding. The Forestry Department worked tirelessly throughout the night to contain the eastern front, covering the areas from Fasoula to Mathikoloni, and extending into Apsiou and Gerasia. The primary goal is to halt the fire's eastward spread, generating optimism about gaining control over the blaze.

09:11 - Fire Surrounded by Ground Forces, Wind Poses Risk

Andreas Kettis, Fire Department spokesman, confirmed that the ground forces have successfully surrounded the fire. At present, the fire is being suppressed, but authorities anticipate winds in the area during the early afternoon, which may pose a risk of reignition.

08:54 - EU Civil Protection Mechanism Activated

Following Cyprus's request for assistance in combating the fires near Limassol, the EU Crisis Management Commissioner, Janes Lenarchic, announced the activation of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Greece has swiftly responded, deploying two Canadair aircraft in the morning to assist in the firefighting efforts.

08:45 - Gratitude for Greek Aid

Constantinos Kombos, the Foreign Minister, expressed gratitude to his Greek counterpart, George Gerapetritis, for sending two Canadair aircraft to aid in extinguishing the fire in the Limassol district.

07:29 - Gerasia-Apesia Road Closed

Due to the ongoing fire in the Limassol district, authorities have closed the Gerasia-Apesia road from both directions to ensure safety.

07:23 - Aerial Assessment Underway

A helicopter survey is currently underway, with Andreas Grigoriou, the Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development, and Environment, on board. Grigoriou serves as the coordinator responsible for activating mechanisms to prevent and respond to fires. The situation is being closely evaluated, and airborne drops have commenced while ground forces are actively controlling and monitoring the fire perimeter.

07:15 - Roads Reopened with Caution

The roads in the Limassol district, specifically Paramythas-Gerasia-Agia Irini and Palodia-Kalo Chorio, which were previously closed due to the fire, have now been reopened. Drivers are urged to exercise caution, adhere to traffic signs, and follow the instructions of police officers on duty.

07:08 - Fire Under Control, Intense Efforts on Active Front

According to Andreas Kettis, the Fire Service's Press Officer, the fire is currently under control, with the exception of an active front between Fasoula and Apsiou. Ground forces have been working tirelessly throughout the night to establish water pipe installations in challenging terrain, after clearing roads with specialized vehicles. As daylight breaks, aerial means will be deployed to address active fires and establish boundaries.

The firefighting teams are sparing no effort to contain the wildfire and ensure the safety of affected communities. The situation remains dynamic, with authorities closely monitoring the weather conditions and coordinating international assistance to combat the inferno.

More updates throughout the day....

Cyprus  |  fire

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