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Rain douses Cyprus wildfire that burned thousands of acres

By AFP - Jun 25,2022 - Last updated at Jun 25,2022

A forest fire rages in the Kyrenia Mountains in the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Turkey, late on Friday (AFP photo)

KANTÁRA, Cyprus — In the end, it was Mother Nature that extinguished a wildfire that scorched thousands of acres and forced the evacuation of villages in the north of divided Cyprus, officials said on Saturday.

Aircraft from both sides of Cyprus, as well as British military and Israeli personnel, had responded to calls for help to fight the fire which began on Tuesday in the Kantara area of the Kyrenia Mountain range.

"The fire... has been extinguished to a large extent with the effect of the rain that fell last night," said Unal Ustel, prime minister of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Ankara.

"We have survived a great disaster."

There have been no reports of casualties but Turkish Cypriot authorities said more than 6,500 acres had been burned.

Helicopters were still dropping water onto the burning ridge lines on Friday, before intense rains fell overnight.

Forestry department head Cemil Karzaoglu said the fire was completely under control and mopping up operations were continuing where smoke was still visible.

Ustel expressed gratitude to “the British Base Areas, Israel and the Greek Cypriot administration for their support in extinguishing the fire from the air”.

The United Nations peacekeeping force said it coordinated the firefighting response.

According to Cypriot media reports earlier, at least four villages were evacuated.

Emergency services from Israel and Britain’s Sovereign Base Areas on the eastern Mediterranean island often help fight Cyprus’s frequent wildfires.

In July last year, blazes that broke out in the Larnaca and Limassol districts claimed the lives of four Egyptian farmworkers.

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