The Jerusalem Post

Israel sends two planes to help Cyprus battle huge forest fires

- • By TOVAH LAZAROFF

Israel plans to send to send two planes from its Fire and Rescue Service to help Cyprus to fight a huge forest fire raging north of the cities of Limassol and Larnaca, forcing the evacuation of some villages.

The fire, fanned by strong winds, affected at least six communitie­s in the foothills of the Troodos mountain range, an area of pine forest and densely vegetated shrubs.

Dozens of properties were damaged, but no injuries were reported and there were widespread power cuts in the area. Plumes of smoke were visible in the capital Nicosia, some 75 km. away.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke with his Cypriot counterpar­t Nikos Christodou­lides on Saturday and said that Israel would do everything it could to help Cyprus bring the fire under control.

Based on the mutual cooperatio­n agreement between the two countries, Public Security Minister Omer Bar Lev and the Fire Commission­er Dedy Simhi discussed ways they could help Cyprus.

Greece also pledged to assist with two aircraft and Cyprus also asked the European Union, of which it is a member, for help.

“This is a very difficult day for Cyprus. All of the state’s mechanisms are in gear, and the priority is for no loss of life,” Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiad­es tweeted.

The cause of the fire, which started around midday, was unclear. Cyprus has experience­d a heat wave this week, with temperatur­es exceeding 40 Celsius.

“It passed through like a whirlwind, it destroyed everything,” said Vassos Vassiliou, the community leader of Arakapas, one of the communitie­s affected.

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