Friday, 12 June 2015

Watching and waiting - Fire in Famagusta

Today was a strange day, today we watched as part of Varosha, (the abandoned city in Famagusta which is under control of the Turkish military) was engulfed in smoke as a large fire spread through the empty city.

I noticed the smoke around 3.30pm and rushed to the balcony surprised to see anything happening in the area which has been deserted for almost 41 years. The flames were fierce and the smoke was intense and we could see that it must have been covering a large area.

ghost town of Cyprus fire
Fire in Varosha - Image credit
Since the Turkish invasion of 1974 the area has been off limits to all but a few UN personnel and heavily monitored by soldiers.

Local newspapers reported that the fire was being dealt with by Turkish Cypriot firefighters, the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akinci had given instructions for assistance to be sought from the United Nations, British bases and Greek Cypriot side if the TC crews were unable to cope.  Fire engines from the Republic of Cyprus (Southern Cyprus) were on standby waiting in Deryneia to assist if needed.  

Varosha fire
Varosha - Image credit 
The fire raged for several hours until eventually extinguished by helicopters dropping water from the sea across the area.

Around 7:30pm the fire was under control.   It seems that fields and wild vegetation burnt but also deserted homes and buildings in the controlled zone.

As far as I know there was no loss of life, I would expect there not to be being as no-one is allowed to enter the city.   No cause has been given for the start of the fire, the mayor of Famagusta Alexis Galanos said it was strange for a fire to break out where there is no electricity.

I've been reading the comments across various platforms with interest, so many are sad and heartbroken and hearing the news from where they have relocated all over the world, sitting watching facebook for updates.

Of course if a settlement is ever reached on Varosha there was always going to be a lot of work to do - it was always going to have to be completely torn down and rebuilt after falling way beyond repair over the years,  but to watch it burn was a very sad thing to see.

It must have been so hard for those whose houses it may have been and for the fire crews standing by in Deryneia watching their city but unable to do anything about it.

Now once again the area is quiet, we wait to hear more, and we wait to see if the recent developments will eventually bring about a solution for the city.

Here's hoping....

phoenix rising
Image credit


Sources:
in-cyprus.com
Famagusta-gazette.com
Cyprus-mail.com

UPDATE: http://in-cyprus.com/varosha-fire-destroys-ghost-town-hotel
The Golden Sands Hotel and a large area of vegetation was destroyed in Friday’s fire in the fenced-off area of Varosha.
Situated within the ‘ghost town,’ the hotel had been inaccessible to anyone but Turkish troops since the 1974 invasion. It belongs to the Archbishopric.
The fire broke out in Ayios Memnonas area and reached down to the beach. There were also reports that Turkish military barracks had been in peril.

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