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Cyprus asks Israel, EU to help battle wildfire

LARNACA, Cyprus — Cyprus requests emergency assistance of planes from Israel and the European Union to fight a wildfire fanned by strong winds and high temperatures that has forced the evacuation of several villages.

The fire spread from the Limassol district of Arakapa, destroying property in the area. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

With Cyprus sweltering under a week-long heatwave and temperatures rising to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit), some villages in the nearby Larnaca district were also evacuated as a precaution.

Foreign Minister Nikos Christoulides tells the official CNA news agency that Cyprus has requested assistance from neighboring Israel.

“We have requested four aircraft, which will be thrown into the battle to extinguish the fires,” the minister says.

The fire is raging on several fronts, with off-duty personnel called in to help with the firefighting effort.

Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis says the island has also turned to the EU.

“It is difficult, that’s why we’ve asked for help from both Israel and the European Union,” Kadis tells CNA.

“Specifically, four aircraft were requested to be sent to extinguish the fires,” he says, adding planes were also expected from Greece.

Over 20 firefighting vehicles, six helicopters and four planes are already fighting the flames, assisted by British troops and equipment stationed on the Mediterranean island.

Dense smoke cam be seen in the southern resort town of Larnaca, 40 kilometers (25 miles) down the coast from Limassol, with the sun turning a “blood orange” color.

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