Multiple dead, homes evacuated as Cyprus faces worst wildfire in decades

A massive forest fire in Cyprus has killed four people, destroyed homes and forced villages to evacuate as Greece, Israel and other countries deploy fire-fighting planes to the island in the Mediterranean.

The fire started Saturday afternoon and has engulfed districts in the southern reaches of the Troodos Mountains as the country grapples with a blistering heat wave.

“It’s a tragedy,” President Nicos Anastasiades said on Twitter, describing it as “the biggest fire since 1974,” when the island was divided after Turkey took the northern third.

The fire had caused “deaths” and destroyed property and forest areas, Anastasiades said, adding that “the government will provide immediate assistance to the victims and the victims’ families.

“We will not abandon anyone in the destruction of the fire.”

Italy and Greece send aid

Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said four charred bodies were found outside Odos village in Larnaca district.

“Forensic investigators are going to the scene for identification,” he told reporters on Sunday.

“All evidence supports the fact that these are the four missing persons we have been looking for since yesterday,” he said, adding that all four dead are believed to be Egyptian nationals.

The daily Phileleftheros newspaper said the four bodies were found about 400 meters (yards) from their burned-out vehicle.

Janez Lenarcic, European Commissioner for Crisis Management, said on Saturday that her “airborne firefighting capabilities” had been mobilized, with Italy and Greece sending planes to assist.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said “two fire-fighting planes” would be sent. They would arrive on Sunday.

Local media reported that a 67-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of setting the fire.


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