Cyprus Mail

Authorities ‘on standby 24/7’ to help stranded villages

By Poly Pantelides

AUTHORITIES said on Friday they would be vigilant overnight as cut-off villages braced for a third night of bitter cold and bad weather.

Interior minister Socrates Hasikos said all district offices would be on standby 24/7 to respond to emergencies.

Villages cut off from heavy snowfall were running out of basic supplies as efforts to clear roads and restore access continued for the third day running.

Communities in the Nicosia district have asked for milk, bread and water, the chief of civil defence operations, Ioannis Avlonitis said.

Dozens of villages have been cut off since Wednesday when snow started falling in the mountains. The capital Nicosia even got its first glimpse of snow in years this week.

Hasikos said the state did not have the kind of equipment available in other countries that regularly experience such weather but said that they were using all private and state equipment to address problems.

For the past few days, several departments including civil defence, district offices, police and the public works department have been working to clear roads and address problems from heavy snowfall, storms, and strong winds.

Electricity authority crews have had to respond to power failures and police had to deal with a number of road accidents in the Famagusta region where a bolt of lightning was thought to have caused a power failure in the morning, fixed later in the day on Friday. A supermarket and a basement also flooded in Famagusta and fire services were called in to respond.

In Paphos, banana plantations were spoiled and many crops were also damaged in the Famagusta region.

Community leaders have said in their villages water pipes have frozen while people were stuck indoors because the roads were too slippery.

“I’ve lent the community’s car to a young man who goes round the village to help out the old people fetching them bread and milk,” said Spilia’s community leader, Antonis Karis.

Amiandos’ community leader Kritonas Kyriakides said it was too dangerous for people to drive. “They’ll have to shop, what can they do? They’ll walk,” he said. He added people were running out of firewood and heating fuel.

But with the weather man promising better weather on Saturday that should help clear roads and free all villages in the next few days. Traffic police has also prepared a safety plan for Cypriots looking to enjoy the snow. Head of traffic police Demetris Demetriou visited Troodos to size up the situation. He said people should really avoid driving, especially if they do not have four wheel drive cars.

Temperatures are expected to rise by up to four degrees Celsius on Saturday, and rise again by a further four or five degrees on Sunday, the met office said.



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