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Friday, June 20, 2008

Cyprus Fire Forces Helicopter Evacuations

Summertime always brings with it the risk of forest fires in rain-starved landscapes. On the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, a forest fire forced the evacuation of six villages this week. The island is facing one of the worst droughts on record and had to use scarce water reserves to battle the blaze that destroyed at least three holiday homes and burned orchards and farms in the semi-mountainous region between the cities of Limassol and Larnaca in southwest Cyprus. About 320 firefighters, 95 vehicles and seven water-dropping aircraft worked to extinguish the blaze, which destroyed an estimated 10 sq kilo (3.5 sq mi) of forest. Fire-busting planes and helicopters from four countries battled the wind-assisted flame. Helicopters from British military bases in Cyprus were assisting firefighters, backed up by the army and volunteers, and Greece sent two aircraft to the island. Most of the fires were quenched by yesterday afternoon. It was not immediately clear what caused the blaze. For related news
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