Cyprus seeks help from Rus­sia

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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