Cypriot civil defense teams found the bodies of four people outside a mountainous village devastated by fire, which the Minister of the Interior described today as the “most destructive” in the island’s history.
Interior Minister Nico Norris said civil defense volunteers discovered the remains of four people outside the village of Odo on the southern tip of the Troodos mountain range.
According to the official, the authorities are trying to confirm that the bodies of four missing Egyptians are trying to locate the search and rescue teams.
“We are witnessing the most devastating fires since the founding of the Republic of Cyprus, both in terms of material damage and unfortunately in terms of human lives,” Norris said.
On the social networking site Twitter, President Nicos Anastasiades today expressed his regret over the “tragedy”, considering that this is the “largest” fire recorded on the island in decades.
“Lives, property, land and forests were lost. The government will immediately assist the victims and their families,” said Nicos Anastasiades.
At the end of the day, the interior minister said, Greek and Israeli planes will join 11 other planes and helicopters to put out the fire.
The blaze, which started on Saturday afternoon, has led to the evacuation of at least eight mountain villages, destroyed several homes and has so far destroyed 50 square kilometers of pine forests and orchards, according to the Cyprus Environment Ministry.
Norris said firefighting means and teams are focusing all efforts on two major fire fronts between the villages of Udo and Vavatsinya.
The government official added that authorities were “cautiously optimistic” that progress would be made in fighting the fire, but that strong winds expected at the end of the day could hamper work.
Norris said more than 30 people have been moved from their homes to hotels in the capital, Nicosia, and residents of Melini village have been provided with food and water.
The fire forced the government of Cyprus to request assistance and means of warfare from other countries in the European Union and from Israel.
To combat the fire, about 70 fire engines, seven tractors and 10 tanker trucks were mobilized.
Cypriot government spokesman Marius Pelicanos said that one of the two Greek planes sent to fight the fire had to return to Greece due to a technical defect.
Marius Pelicanos also said that two Israeli planes had been dispatched and that authorities were awaiting confirmation of the arrival of two Italian planes.
Police also revealed that the court had ordered a 67-year-old man to remain in the authorities’ custody for eight days to help investigate the causes of the fire.