Massive fire in Turkish Cyprus spews smoke over divided island
A forest fire broke out in Turkish Cyprus’ northwestern town of Tepebaşı, as heat waves continued to grip the island.
The fire occurred in forestland in the area, and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akıncı said the fire was partially under control, but it would create massive environmental damage.
Akıncı noted it was too soon to say what the cause was.
Students of the Middle East Technical University’s (ODTÜ) campus in the country were evacuated after the huge fires in Kalkanlı and Kormacit, one of four traditionally Maronite villages in Cyprus.
Ankara sent three firefighting helicopters to Turkish Cyprus, Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay said, after the authorities asked for help, requiring two helicopters.
Oktay also said Turkey closely observes the situation, stressing that it supports Turkish Cyprus with all its institutions, particularly the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry.
Through the U.N., two air vehicles from Greek Cyprus took turns in helping put out the fire, said Kudret Özersay, the foreign minister of Turkish Cyprus.
Akıncı also stated that a helicopter was requested from the British High Commission in Cyprus, however, the helicopter was reported to be faulty.
A large forest area turned to ash and olive trees in the region, some 600 years old, were also damaged as a result of the fire.