A second firefighter lost his life during the blaze that is ravaging the area near the villages of Spilia, Kannavia and Hagia Irene in Cyprus and continues for the third day.
Marios Aristotelous succumbed on Monday and he is the second victim of the fire that has already killed his 49-year-old colleague, Andreas Sofokleous. Their fire truck overturned and fell into a 30-meter deep precipice. Sofokleous was the father of five children.
Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades in a statement said the government and he personally “express our deepest condolences to the relatives of tragically lost Andreas Sofokleous to whom the state will stand by.”
Meanwhile, the fires still rage in the Solea district, with the firefighting forces continuing the efforts to extinguish the blazes.
Cyprus’ Forest Department Director Takis Tsintides said many of the fires are under control and their intensity is declining after the winds are milder and temperatures are dropping.
On Monday, Greece sent two Super Puma helicopters, in addition to a Canadair firefighting plane, to join the efforts of Cyprus’ firefighting forces that are engaged in the operation. Many community members, civil servants and volunteers aid the firefighters in the effort.
Forest Department spokesperson Andreas Christou said that the operation started again at 6:30 am on Tuesday. “There is a lull in the area but the smoke has covered the whole area and this makes it a bit difficult for the firefighting airplanes,” he said.
The directors of the Fire and Forest Departments said that this is the worst fire in recent years, both in size and damages. The blaze has destroyed about 15,000 acres of pine forests so far.