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Record-worst forest fire kills four in Cyprus

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NICOSIA, July 4 (Xinhua) — Four people were killed in a mammoth forest fire which has been raging for almost 24 hours in a mountainous area of Cyprus, police said on Sunday.

Charalambos Alexandrou, director of the Department of Forests, said the fire was the worst ever in the history of Cyprus.

The police said that the victims were four Egyptian nationals, aged 25 to 30, who were working as agricultural workers at Odou village.

The fast moving fire, which was fanned by strong winds over an area of at least 55 square km within two hours, has affected 10 mountain communities north-east of the port city of Limassol.

Alexandrou said that the blaze was brought under control following all-night efforts by hundreds of firefighters and firefighting aircraft operating non-stop since early morning.

He added that efforts were currently focused on preventing the blaze from crossing over into the thick pine forest of Machairas, on one of the highest peaks of the central Troodos massif.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said after touring some of the affected communities that the fire “was the biggest tragedy to hit Cyprus” since 1974.

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