NICOSIA, June 22 (Xinhua) -- The government of Cyprus has sent three firefighting aircraft to the Turkish-occupied Kantara area of the island to help the local authorities there put out a major forest fire in ragged mountain terrain, deputy government spokesman Niovi Parisinou said here on Wednesday.
This was the first time the Turkish Cypriot authorities requested such help from the government of Cyprus. Cyprus was partitioned when Turkey sent troops to intervene in the northern part of the island in 1974 in response to a coup by the military rulers of Greece.
The Turkish Cypriot authorities said the fire has been raging out of control since Tuesday afternoon in inaccessible areas about four kilometers from an 11th century Byzantine castle perched on top of a pine clad mountain range.
Parisinou said that on Wednesday afternoon the Turkish Cypriot authorities asked the Forestry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture of Cyprus to provide air assistance after strong winds fanned the fire out of control.
"It goes without saying that we responded to their call for help and we dispatched the helicopters," Parisinou said.
Nine aircraft, including two from Turkey and two from the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), are taking part in the firefighting effort.
Turkish Cypriot media reported that the Turkish inhabitants of the former Greek Cypriot village of Flamoudi had to be evacuated.
They also reported that four people, including a fireman, were injured while trying to tackle the fire, which has burned down more than 10 square kilometers of wild vegetation.