Cyprus fire: four dead as 'worst forest fire in country's history' rips through Troodos mountain range

The UK, Israel, Greece and Italy have all deployed aerial firefighters to assist in preventing the fire spreading into Machairas National Forest Park

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.

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

We want to hear from you: let us know what you think about this story and be part of the debate in our comments section below

People in the village of Vavatsinia in the Larnaca district of Cyprus watch as the wildfire rages on the nearby hills during the night of 3 July (Picture:  Getty Images)
People in the village of Vavatsinia in the Larnaca district of Cyprus watch as the wildfire rages on the nearby hills during the night of 3 July (Picture: Getty Images)

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."

Homes in the Ora are of the Larnaca district of Cyprus have been destroyed, as the fire rages on (Picture: Getty Images)

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.”

Background

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.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.