In Cyprus 2 fire-fighters die battling fire

The two fire-fighters died after their fire-truck drove off the road and flipped down a steep slope, injuring three others, the authorities said.

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Nicos Anastasiades play

Nicos Anastasiades, president of Cyprus

(britannica)
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Two fire-fighters died early Tuesday while battling a massive forest fire in Cyprus, Cypriot President, Nikos Anastasiades, has said.

The blaze broke out over the weekend in several parts of the Solea region, near the base of the Troodos mountain range.

It has since turned into what Cypriot media has called the island's biggest fire in decades.

Thick clouds of smoke rising far above the country's highest mountains could be seen from all over Cyprus, witnesses said.

The two fire-fighters died after their fire-truck drove off the road and flipped down a steep slope, injuring three others, the authorities said.

"This is a catastrophe like none we have ever experienced," Anastasiades said during a visit to the region, in comments broadcast on local television.

The president said he hoped the fire could be under control by nightfall, with the help of airplanes dropping water on the flames.

Cypriot fire-fighters are receiving assistance from Greece and Britain, among other EU nations.

The fire department said 15 square kilometre of forest and farmland had been destroyed in the fire, which is believed to have been accidentally started by a 12-year-old boy, according to state media.

Greece, France and Italy are all providing fire-fighting planes and helicopters to help stop the spread of fires, the European Union's executive said.

He said that the bloc can help with the cost of transporting assistance.

"The EU stands by Cyprus to help in the response to this natural disaster," Humanitarian Aid Commissioner, Christos Stylianides, said.

He said that the European Commission was in close contact with Nicosia.

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