Blazing fire threatens the Morphou forest in the north

Cyprus on high alert as temperatures soar to 42C, fires rage

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Cyprus remains on high alert on Monday as temperatures are expected to soar above 40C for the fourth day, with the island experiencing an extraordinary heat wave that already pushed thousands to evade the coronavirus restrictions on Sunday and headed to the beaches.

With strong winds, Sunday also saw a total of six fires break out throughout the island, with one in the north raging out of control through the night, as Turkish Cypriot firefighters sought assistance from Turkey, while a Republic of Cyprus light aircraft dropped water over the Morphou area.

Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci called for assistance from the Republic for the blaze in the north, with fire service spokesman Andreas Kettis saying an aircraft flew several sorties of water drops.

The government also offered to deploy a search and rescue helicopter, as well as ground units, including newly arrived fire engines.

The meteorological service said Monday’s temperature will reach a record 42C inland and 39C along the coast, which combined with a high level of dust particles in the atmosphere, is about ten degrees above normal for this time of the year.

High temperatures usually oblige the met service to issue a ‘yellow’ alert, but on Sunday, the temperature kicked in at a record 42.5C, forcing the service to issue an ‘orange’ alert and a ‘red’ alert for forest fires. The warning remains in place on Monday, with the fire service expecting new blazes, until temperatures start dropping by Wednesday.

The six fires were near Kakoradjia, closing the Limassol-Nicosia highway for several hours; two fires in the Ayia Napa area, on the first exit to Ayia Napa from the Larnaca-Paralimni highway and the other further down at the Ayia Napa roundabout; in the Diorios-Kormakiti area on the northwestern tip of the island, forcing the evacuation of students at the Near East University; a smaller fire in Chlorakas, near Paphos; and a blaze near Ypsonas, on the outskirts of Limassol.

For the last fire near Ypsonas, two fire trucks from the British bases also responded to the call fighting the blaze on the side of four units from the Republic’s fire service.