Cyprus asks EU and Israel for help as huge forest fire forces evacuations in southern villages

Cyprus has approached the European Union and Israel for help as a huge forest engulfs villages on the south of the island.

At least three villages have been evacuated on the Mediterranean island as authorities battle to fight the blaze in the Troodos mountain region.

Cypriot environment minister Costas Kadis said that the flames had already burned through “huge tracts of forest”, as well as properties in the village of Arakpas.

Photos show smoke and flames rising from miles around – blocking out the sun and forcing firefighters to battle the blaze from the air.

Cyprus government spokesman Marios Pelekanos told the media that the size of the fire is “concerning”, adding that Greece and Israel has pledged to send aircraft to the region.

There are already four Cypriot planes helping to tackle the fire, but strong winds and searing temperatures are making it difficult.

According to officials, firefighters were being called in from their day off to help efforts.

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