Cyprus Mail

Skali residents warn of casualties due to rockslides

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The Skali area of Aglandja

Residents of the Aglandjia area of Nicosia on Thursday accused authorities of apathy to their plight – rockslides – and warned of possible casualties in the future unless the government changes its tune.

The matter came up at the House interior affairs committee, where Aglandjia mayor Andreas Constantinou made an urgent plea for financial assistance to clean up the debris from slides from rocky outcrops – many of which located right next to homes.

He made special mention of the landslide occurring after the earthquake of January 12. It took about 30 trucks to remove the rocks and dirt that fell into people’s yards.

Luckily, the mayor said, that event happened in the early morning hours when people were asleep. Had it taken place later in the day, there might have been fatalities.

And the situation remains precarious.

“Every day we wake up and make the sign of the cross, just thinking when the next landslide might happen,” Constantinou remarked.

According to the mayor, the Ministry of the Interior has green-lit €500,000 for clearing debris from landslides, but only on state-owned land in the area. The ministry did not approve any funds for clearing debris on private-owned land.

A 2017 study found that restoration works – both on state and private lands – would cost €1.82 million.

Following the earthquake of January 12, the municipality asked the ministry for help in restoring private residential areas. The ministry replied that the collapse of the rock face was unrelated to the earthquake, as it took place on the day after the tremor.

The municipality was therefore not eligible for financial assistance, and had to tap into own funds for the debris clearance works.

Moreover, Constantinou reported that two caves at Skali Aglandjia – which used to host cafeterias – have collapsed.

MPs heard that the Geological Survey Department has completed a study indicating the dangerous areas in Nicosia. The study, to be published soon, will alert members of the public as to the hazardous areas in the capital and also the potential extra costs should they want to build a house.

Committee chair Aristos Damianou (Akel) later told media it is inconceivable that the state refuses to make funds available for restoring damage on privately owned land.

“Human life is not measured by whether the land is private or state-owned,” he said.

The deputy called on the government to change its policy and release the necessary funds.

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