NEWS

Cyprus brings deadly wildfire under control

TAGS: Cyprus, Fires

Cyprus finally brought a massive wildfire under control on Thursday after a five-day battle that saw two firefighters killed and five foreign governments send aircraft to help, a minister said.

Hundreds of firefighters remain on standby to put out any rekindling flames, Agriculture Minister Nicos Kouyialis told reporters.

Firefighting aircraft deployed by Britain, France, Greece and Italy are also staying on the island as a precaution, Kouyialis said.

Six planes provided by Israel have returned home.

President Nicos Anastasiades was to attend the funeral later on Thursday of the second of the two firefighters who were killed.

He also attended the first funeral on Wednesday and cancelled all official engagements for the rest of the week as the government declared three days of national mourning.

The pair died in hospital on Monday from injuries suffered when the fire truck they were in plunged 40 metres (130 feet) down a cliff.

The blaze destroyed at least 15 square kilometres (six square miles) of orchards and forest in the Solea valley in the northern foothills of the Troodos mountains.

Anastasiades paid tribute to the civilian volunteers and troops who joined the firefighting effort, which was hampered by tinder-dry conditions as the island swelters under temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius.

Cyprus is frequently hit by forest fires in the summer but the Solea blaze was the worst in years.

[AFP]

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