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Cyprus

Weather warning as Larnaca suffers worst effects of overnight downpour (update 3)

Larnaca district bore the brunt of the high winds and rain that hit Cyprus, while power cuts, flooding and fallen trees were reported Tuesday, in other areas.

Several roads in the Larnaca area were flooded by the torrential rain that fell throughout the night with police saying those in the Kamares area were particularly affected. Kranidiotis Machairiotis street as well as several others in Larnaca became impassable and were closed.

“The water comes into our homes, we can’t live in our own homes, our cars are damaged,” one Larnaca resident said.

“This year we’re going the legal route,” another asserted, referring to the previous time their properties suffered extensive damage in December 2014, following a similar incident of heavy rainfall.

“I’ll go to the courts, I’ll get lawyers.”

Residents who suffered through the 2014 disaster complained that they were treated to hollow promises and received ridiculously little money in government aid.

“We had the same problem two years ago,” a resident in a flooded neighbourhood said.

“What can we do? Should we move our homes?”

Larnaca district officer Odysseas Hadjistephanou dismissed claims that the situation in Kamares was dire and accused the media of broadcasting exaggerated reports of the circumstances. He maintained that significant building had been carried out for the community and emphasised the work undertaken to prevent water breaching the barriers of a nearby river, as had happened countless times in the past.

Local residents accused him of being ill-informed after he went on national radio saying only three basements had been flooded.

Responding to the criticism late on Tuesday, Hadjistephanou repeated his claims of “limited damage to 21 homes, 8 business establishments, 29 cars, and two motorcycles”.

“These figures arise from reports of Larnaca district office officials who visited the affected areas from the start of the incident until late on Tuesday,” he said.

“Measures to address this particular problem fall under two categories. The first comprises 12 actions and construction projects that were decided and implemented immediately following the December 2014 floods. The second category comprises works that will be proposed by an anti-flooding study, which must be concluded by August 2017.

Several vehicles, including a police car, were immobilised by the flooding and the fire service worked throughout the night helping trapped drivers.

“More than 70 calls for assistance were received in the Larnaca area alone,” Andreas Ketti of the fire service said. “These mainly concerned moving cars, pumping water from basements, unblocking drainage channels and moving trees that had fallen due to the strong winds.”

Ketti said a handful of calls were dealt with in the free Famagusta areas, while in Limassol and Paphos seven and three trees respectively, had to be moved.

Power cuts were also sustained in various parts of the island as power lines were brought down, with a number of communities in the districts of Limassol and Paphos being affected. Earlier on Tuesday Monovolikos and Polemidia were reported to still be without power.

“From 2.30am, due to high winds there were a number of small faults in the network in Limassol, Kolossi, Pyrgos and Kofinou stretching eastward to Larnaca and the free areas of Famagusta,” Christina Papadopoulou of the electricity authority said, adding that the authority’s teams had been mobilised and were finding alternative solutions until the faults were rectified.

Police announced that due to landslides, the road to St Nicholas Paphos Kaminaria through Tzielefos bridge had been closed to traffic.

Due to the weather conditions, police are urging drivers to be especially careful and to check the latest information on road conditions before any movements, through the police website, facebook, or twitter app. This can be downloaded for free from their site.

In an emergency weather deterioration bulletin, the met office said the weather is expected to deteriorate over Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning with the main feature being very strong winds, forecast to reach six Beaufort locally and warning the owners of small boats docked to avoid their use.

The Search and Rescue Coordination Centre has reportedly has put all staff and available floating and flying means on standby to address and assist any dangerous incidents ships and small vessels may encounter.

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