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Four dead from death-dealing Cyprus forest fire

Four dead from death-dealing Cyprus forest fire

Nicosia, Jul 5 (Prensa Latina) Four Egyptians were found dead on Sunday as a whacking fire raged for a second day in Cyprus, razing tracts of forest and gutting dozens of homes in a blaze one official called the worst on record.
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The blaze, fanned by strong winds, affected at least 10 communities over an area exceeding 50 square kilometres (19 square miles) in the foothills of the Troodos mountain range, an area of pine forest and densely vegetated shrubland.

Although firefighters got the flames under control, they expected strong winds to stoke them up.

Local authorities requested support from the European Union (EU) and Israel to fight the wildfire.

Nicos Nouris, Cypriot Interior Minister, reported about the four dead, assuring that they were found charred close to the town of Odos. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry confirmed they could be fellow agricultural workers.

A 67-year-old man, whose identity was not disclosed, was arrested on suspicion of setting the fire after a witness identified him as he left the scene where the blazes started off. He could even be charged with manslaughter.

Cyprus frequently faces forest fires during summer drought and high temperatures, which lasts from June to October.

President Nikos Anastasiades, who on Sunday visited the Crisis Management Center in the town of Vavatsiniá (near the wildfire), said that as many as 55 square kilometers were ravaged.

The situation is partially under control, but we are deeply concerned about the increased wind strength in the afternoon, Anastasiades added.

pgh/Pll/ga / ro

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