Villages evacuated in north as fire rages

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Kyrenia villages in the Turkish-occupied north are being evacuated as a wildfire spreads, with the Israeli and Cyprus governments sending firefighting aircraft to help.

The two Israeli aircraft were expected to fly to Larnaca on Thursday before joining Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot firefighting forces under the coordination of UNFICYP.

The British Bases have also sent a helicopter to assist in operations.

The Cyprus government decided to send two firefighting planes and a helicopter to the north to help tackle the wildfire.

Two helicopters from Turkey are also taking part in the operation.

The aircraft were dispatched on Wednesday afternoon after the Turkish Cypriot authorities submitted a request for help through the UN.

The Cyprus government subsequently extended the call for help to the Israeli government.

The fire broke out in Kantara, on the eastern part of the Kyrenia mountain range, spreading eastwards.

Turkish Cypriot authorities launched a coordinated operation to evacuate the villages of Flamoudi and Ardana in the early hours of Thursday.

According to reports, the fire has destroyed more than 3,000 acres of land, while several villages are at risk.

The residents of the two villages were temporarily housed in hotels in the village of Davlos and do not yet know when they will be able to return to their homes.

So far, the villages affected by the fire in the north are Flamoudi, where it first started, Ardana, Ayios Andronikos, Ayios Iakovos, Mandres, Akanthou and Lefkoniko.

In comments to state radıo CyBC, the head of the Forestry Department Charalambous Alexandrou said: “The situation is slightly better compared to Wednesday. However, the fire is still raging, and we are not yet close to extinguishing it.”

On Thursday, the head of a crisis committee under the office of Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, Huseyin Cahitoglu, told Turkish Cypriot media that the fire was largely under control.

He said six people had been injured, including one fireman and another five affected by smoke inhalation.

According to the reports, the fire was caused by a short circuit on an agricultural vehicle.

On Wednesday, the two people operating the vehicle were reportedly arrested for negligence.