Cyprus seeks help from Russia
As firefighters and hundreds of volunteers continue to try and bring the mountain blaze under control, the government has sought help from Russia to extinguish a fire raging in the Solea area since Sunday.
Already, 16 airborne units from Israel, Greece, France, Italy and the British Bases are aiding in the efforts to put out the fire that has so far cost the lives of two firemen and destroyed about 15 sq.km. of mostly forest. Three Canadair firefighting aircraft from France arrived early on Tuesday to assist and another arrived from Italy.
The government said it would also consider accepting an offer from Turkey to help put out the wild fires burning part of the Troodos mountain area, provided that it will be under the operational planning and administered by the state, as is the case with all international assistance.
Earlier, the Turkish Minster of Forestry Veysel Eroglu had stated Ankara’s readiness to assist with two helicopters and a plane, following instructions by the country’s Prime Minister.
According to a Presidency announcement, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci had contacted President icos Anastasiades to convey the Turkish offer.
One of the two fires had been put under control, while firefighters focused their efforts on containing a second fire that threatened the villages of Kourdali, Spilia and areas surrounding Evrykhou, as well as Asinou that was evacuated and historical artefacts from the UNESCO-designated Byzantine church taken to safety.
Interior Minister Socratis Hasikos said that compensation would be paid where the fire has damaged private property of farms, while the Cyprus Agricultural Payments Organisation (CAPO) said it would record all the damage and proceed with an assessment of the situation to seek compensation as well.
The European Commission said that Cyprus has requested several firefighting planes and 80 tons of retardant material in response to the devastating forest fires in the Evrychou area. The Commission said it has taken immediate steps to provide coordinated European support through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.
Greece has already deployed two firefighting planes and two helicopters to help stop the spread of the fires. France made available its firefighting planes from the voluntary pool of EU civil protection assets.
The two Canadair firefighting planes and a plane to ensure coordination were deployed from France and arrived in the early evening and the European Union will co-finance the transport costs of the assistance offered.
The Civil Protection Mechanism can be activated by a Member State or a country outside the EU if it feels overwhelmed by a crisis. The European Commission then coordinates the voluntary offers made by participating states, and can co-finance the transport of relief items and experts to the country in question. The mobilisation of assistance is coordinated through the Commission’s Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), which closely monitors developments around the clock.