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Damage of weekend rains assessed (Update 2)

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At least 20 houses in the Famagusta district were damaged after heavy rainfall over the weekend which caused part of the historic walls to collapse in the non-government-controlled areas.

Authorities on Monday were assessing the damage from extreme weather conditions in the Larnaca and Famagusta districts ahead of the cabinet meeting on Wednesday after Interior Minister Nicos Nouris said he will press for the decision on compensation to be taken then.

Meanwhile, a yellow weather warning for rain and thunderstorms was extended to 5pm.

Three teams of the Famagusta district administration, two in the Paralimni municipality and one in Ayia Napa are recording the damage caused by Saturday’s natural disaster, Famagusta district officer Georgios Chrysafinis told CNA.

He said the torrential rain damaged houses, hotels and other infrastructure as well as vehicles. These mainly concern underground areas of tourism-related businesses and hotels but also the ground floors in some cases.

The teams have recorded damage to 20 residences until 2pm on Monday, Chrysafinis said, while evaluation continues and is expected to be completed by Tuesday.

Paralimni mayor Theodoros Pyrillis had earlier said damage to sea-front businesses was severe, adding that the last time such a phenomenon was observed was 35 years ago.

In the north, several roads flooded in Famagusta while stones from the historic walls fell on the road.

The adverse weather conditions also affected the Larnaca district with the local authorities saying crews are expected to record the extend of the damage by Wednesday.

Larnaca district officer Odysseas Hadjistefanou said by Monday night the damage in Dromolaxia and Meneou, where refugee housing estates are hosted, will be recorded.

“After the recording, a report will be prepared which will be sent to the interior minister who will in turn present it to the council of ministers on Wednesday for a decision to compensate the affected people,” the officer explained.

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Photo: Christos Theodorides 

For his part, the mayor of Dromolaxia and Meneou, Kypros Andronikou said the municipality has record and photographed the damage and will soon prepare an extended list. He expressed hope that “by Wednesday the list will be completed” so that the affected residents can immediately receive financial compensation.

Explaining why the rain caused flooding, Andronikou said there is a particular point on the Ayios Panteleiomnas street which is the lowest point of the road and collects rainwater from all areas. There, a major anti-flooding project has been constructed “but unfortunately the rainfall was so heavy the systems could not immediately absorb and channel the rainwater outside the municipality,” he said.

To address the situation, the municipality’s technicians submitted some proposals to improve the infrastructure on the road.

“We will bring a surveyor to record the slopes, levels and other things to see what else can be done,” Andronikou said. But some improvement works will be carried out immediately to mitigate the problem, he added.

Nouris assured Andronikou that he will take the matter before the cabinet and will appeal for the decision to be taken on Wednesday “so the money can be paid to the people immediately”.

Otherwise, in any subsequent disaster all these houses that were affected will face multiple issues, the minister said. He added that “several people have been waiting for several months, some even years to repair their houses in the refugee housing estates.”

The chairman of the house refugee committee Nicos Kettiros, who visited the area on Monday, also asked for immediate compensation to the residents. “The procedures should be accelerated so that all the money related to the refugees is returned to the fixed fund because it is not absorbed by the state services,” he said, adding this money amounts to over €40 million.

Meanwhile, police have urged caution to drivers in all areas, especially motorways, noting they remain on full alert together with other state services. In the past 48 hours, the fire service received over 260 calls for assistance of which 217 were from Famagusta and 47 from Larnaca.

Police have also temporarily closed the road leading to the ancient monument and Muslim mosque Hala Sultan following Sunday’s rains, the antiquities department said in a statement.

The roads leading to Troodos mountains were open to all vehicles on Monday. Updates on the road network situation are available on the official police website.

According to the met service, this weather will continue until Tuesday. As of Wednesday, the weather will be partly cloudy with temperature averaging to slightly higher than the average for the season.

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