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Cyprus left without firefighting aircraft

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Firefighting aircraft used in one of Cyprus' destructive forest fires

Cyprus currently has no firefighting aircraft available to use in case of a forest fire, as temperatures begin to soar, it emerged on Wednesday.

The statement was made by senior forestry department official Kostas Papageorgiou who was speaking to MPs during a House environment committee.

Deputies however were furious, with the environment commissioner also expressing her concern.

“Unfortunately, we currently do not have any firefighting aircraft available in case anything happens. We do not know when we will be ready,” Disy MP Prodromos Alambritis said.

According to Papageorgiou, the eight aircraft under the forestry department’s service are still being repaired.

As far as two private airplanes are concerned, one will be returning on Friday from Israel where it was sent for repair works.

The second will be ready in two-and-a-half months because its engine needs replacing.

Where two airplanes and two helicopters the government rents are concerned, they are still in the tender process, Papageorgiou underlined.

In total, the department is waiting on eight aircraft but it does have the national guard aircraft, he specified.

Papageorgiou said the state mechanism on dealing with fires will be ready early in June.

Deputy chief of the fire services Andreas Christofi said they were ready every day, and deal with around 200 cases every day, ranging from labour accidents, floods or fires.

MPs said Agriculture Minister Maria Panayiotou would be called to the next session to brief parliament on the government’s plans to tackle fires.

Akel MP Nikos Kettiros said “while authorities told the House environment committee they are on guard since April 1, we discovered they do not have a single firefighting aircraft available.

“It appears the planning was not done properly at all.”

 

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