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Cyprus fire

Israel mobilizes aid as firefighters contend with strong winds and hot, dry weather.

By United With Israel Staff

Israel is dispatching two firefighting airplanes and retardant to Cyprus to help battle a major forest fire that forced the evacuation of several villages. Strong winds and hot, dry weather quickly spread Saturday’s blaze in the Toodros Mountains.

Dense plumes of smoke could be seen as far away as Nicosia, 45 miles away, and seven villages in the vicinity of Limassol and Larnaca were evacuated.

“It is the worst forest fire in the history of Cyprus,” said Forestries Department Director Charalambos Alexandrou to Cyprus’s Omega TV.

After Cypriot authorities put in a call for assistance to Israel and the European Union, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett quickly signed off on the aid. Israeli officials cited “close ties between Israel and Cyprus, in particular on mutual assistance in times of crises.”

According to a joint statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Foreign Ministry and Public Security Ministry, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke with his Cypriot counterpart Nikos Christodoulides, pledging that Israel “will do everything it can to help Cyprus in getting control of events.”

According to the Cypriot media, a 67-year-old man who was reportedly burning stubble in the mountains near Limassol has been arrested.

Israel and Cyprus helped each other with firefighting assistance following the Mt. Carmel fire of 2010 and the Evrychou, Cyprus forest fire of 2016 and have conducted joint fire fighting exercises.

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