By Jonathan Shkurko and Evie Andreou
The labour ministry has announced it will financially compensate the families of the four Egyptian seasonal workers who lost their lives on Saturday in the devastating fire that destroyed lives, businesses and homes in the area of Odou last weekend.
The aid package is part of a number of schemes designed to help the affected communities and also includes €6m for destroyed homes and businesses, plus financial help for school districts.
According to an announcement, the Council of Ministers will allocate €95,000 to each family of the four Egyptian workers who died in the fire on Saturday, plus an additional €35,000 for each of the victims’ children. Furthermore, the children will be granted scholarships to universities in Cyprus.
The workers were identified as Morzok Shady Morzok, Hisa Melad Farouk, Ezat Salama Josef and Maged Nabil Yonan, aged 35, 29, 28 and 24 respectively.
Two of them arrived in Cyprus for the first time on May 5 this year, one in March, while the last one has worked in Cyprus during the summer for the past four years.
During the fire on Saturday, once they realised they were in danger, they drove away from the farm where they worked and lived, trying to head in the opposite direction from the fire.
Reports said a compatriot of the four workers had spoken to one of them before the tragedy and was told that their vehicle had fallen into a ravine while they were trying to get away, forcing them to flee on foot.
Their charred bodies were found later around 400 metres from where the vehicle was found in Odou and not close to each other.
The labour ministry said it would also cover the wages, social security and housing expenses for all employers and employees of businesses affected, covering the period July to September.
As the majority of people working in the agricultural sector in Odou are foreigners, the labour ministry also decided to cover the cost of their repatriation, if they wish to return to their countries of origin. Seasonal workers will also have their contracts extended if they wish.
Meanwhile, the education ministry on Wednesday announced a series of support measures for pupils living the areas affected by last weekend’s fires.
The measures include monetary aid to purchase school uniforms and supplies and free meals to pupils.
According to a statement, the Cabinet decided that a second classroom will operate at the lamatiki public kindergarten in Eptagonia, in the Limassol district to accommodate all applications concerning children from the affected areas. The monthly tuition fees, €42, for these children, around 15, will be waived for the next school year.
It was also decided to give €200 to each of the 185 pupils of preschool, primary and secondary education for the purchase of school uniforms, school bags and other supplies such as stationary.
The Cabinet also decided to include the pupils of primary and secondary education from these areas to the free school meals scheme.
The state will also pay the amount necessary for the meal offered to all pupils of the Chirokitia unitary all-day school. According to the ministry, all pupils going to the all-day school of Iamatiki are already receiving a free meal as part of support measures to mountainous areas as well as eight pupils who are registered as needy at the Chrirokitia all-day unitary school. In total 17 children are registered to the all-day school in Chirokitia, the ministry said.
The communities affected were Arakapas, Eptagonia, Ora, Ayioi Vavatsinias, Melini and Odou in Larnaca and Limassol. The government also included Tala, in Paphos that was affected by a large fire on June 26.