Four people have been confirmed dead as Cypriot fire services struggle to control a vast forest fire which is began in the north of the cities of Limassol and Larnaca.
The UK, Italy, Greece and Israel have now sent in fire fighter planes to assist in the rescue mission, described by officials as the worst fire in the small island’s history.
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At a glance: 5 key points
The fire has affected several villages in the foothills of the Troodos mountain range, destroying homes and power lines. Cypriot planes have struggled to tame the fire, due to strong winds and temperatures reaching over 40C, British troops stationed on the island have now been deployed to support the rescue and recovery mission. The fire’s perimeter has now destroyed everything within its 50km perimeter, four people died just 600m from their car in the village of Odos, police stated they had been trapped by the flames. The European Commission's head of crisis management, Janez Lenarcic, said on Saturday that a co-ordinated response was under way. The EU's emergency Copernicus satellite is tracking the blaze, the commission said. A 67-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident, but no cause has been identified.
What's been said?
Cypriot forestries department director Charalambos Alexandrou told Omega TV: "It is the worst forest fire in the history of Cyprus."
One of the community leaders for affected area Aarkapas, Vassos Vassiliou, said: "It passed through like a whirlwind, it destroyed everything."
On Saturday, Cypriot Environment Minister Costas Kadis said the fire has claimed “huge tracts of forest” and homes near the village of Arakapas.
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades wrote on Twitter: "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,” he later said on state television that although loss of life had been the top priority “a deadly incident has taken place.”
The fire is believed to have started on Saturday and authorities have been battling the blaze throughout the evening and into Sunday morning, in an attempt to prevent the fire reaching the pine forest area of Machairas.
Multiple villages have now been evacuated, as emergency firefighters from the EU, Cyprus and Israel attempt to put it out before it spreads across the mountainous region.
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