Russia sanctions hurt Cyprus firefighters

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The war in Ukraine and sanctions imposed on Moscow are taking a toll on the Cyprus forestry department that will be deprived of two Russian-owned firefighting helicopters it leases every year.

The development comes as Cyprus heads into the hot summer months, which have firefighters on the alert for wildfires.

Department efforts to lease two firefighting helicopters for this year have been unsuccessful as both tender procedures have been cancelled, with the only bid submitted not meeting the criteria.

During the past two years, the Republic of Cyprus leased a pair of Kamov helicopters, but due to the EU sanctions on Russia, the company was not allowed to submit a new tender.

The Forestry Department is now waiting for the green light from the Tender Board so that negotiations may begin with the only other company that showed interest in the second tender.

On July 3 last year, Cyprus lived through the largest-ever wildfire in the island’s recent history, which claimed the lives of four farm workers.

The fire, described as the worst since independence in 1960, destroyed nearly 100 homes and businesses, damaged power lines and forced the evacuation of ten villages in the mountainous areas of Limassol and Larnaca.

Four Egyptian farmhands died trying to escape the village of Odos, where they worked on a tomato plantation.