LARNACA, (Cyprus): Cyprus on Saturday requested emergency assistance of planes from Israel and the EU to fight a wildfire fanned by strong winds and high temperatures that forced the evacuation of several villages.
The fire spread from the Limassol district of Arakapa, destroying property but without any immediate report of casualties.
With Cyprus sweltering under a week-long heatwave and temperatures rising to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), some villages in the nearby Larnaca district were also evacuated as a precaution.
Foreign Minister Nikos Christoulides told the official CNA news agency that Cyprus has requested assistance from neighbouring Israel.
“We have requested four aircraft which will be thrown into the battle to extinguish the fires,” the minister said.
The fire is raging on several fronts, with off-duty personnel called in to help with the firefighting effort.
Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis said the island has also turned to the European Union.
“It is difficult; that’s why we’ve asked for help from both Israel and the European Union,” Kadis told CNA.
“Specifically, four aircraft were requested to be sent to extinguish the fires,” he said, adding planes were also expected from Greece.
Over 20 firefighting vehicles, six helicopters and four planes are already fighting the flames, assisted by British troops and equipment stationed on the Mediterranean island.
Dense smoke could be seen in the southern resort town of Larnaca, 40 kilometres (25 miles) down the coast from Limassol, with the sun turning a “blood orange” colour.