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Cyprus

Fire fighting to focus on clearing wild vegetation growth

The government on Tuesday restated its readiness to tackle what is expected to be a fearsome fire season, as fields filled with dry vegetation continue to pose a substantial problem for which a further €3.5m will be distributed to local authorities to clear fields belonging to negligent private owners.

Law amendments will also be urgently pushed through to allow the imposition of fines on persons refusing to clear plots of land of highly-flammable material, Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides said after the meeting, which was also attended by the ministers of defence and agriculture among others.

Petrides added that the €3.5m that has already been approved by the cabinet will serve to fund efforts by local authorities toward clearing private plots of land but also toward opening rural roads which have become overgrown as a result of the heavy rain earlier this year, which will allow access to firefighters.

Rural roads adjacent to forests will be given priority, Petrides said.

The budget for the intense information campaign that has begun and that will run until October regarding the prevention of fires has also been increased, Petrides said.

Using the existing budget, helicopters tasked with firefighting will be increased from two to three, Petrides said.

A memorandum of understanding will also be drawn up and signed by the fire service and forestry department, which share firefighting responsibilities, in order to clarify the role of each party in the event of a fire, Petrides said.

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