NICOSIA, May 18 (Xinhua) -- Turkish Cypriot community leader Mustafa Akinci made a telephone call to Cyprus' President Nicos Anastasiades to thank him for providing firefighting aircraft to help put out fires in the Turkish-controlled part of the island, government spokesman Kyriakos Kousios said on Monday.
It was the first time during the 46-year long division of Cyprus that Turkish Cypriots in the northern part of the island had accepted such help from the internationally recognized Cypriot government, run by the Greek Cypriot community.
"The Turkish Cypriot leader expressed his thanks to President Anastasiades for sending one helicopter and one water-dropping plane to help in fighting the fires. The President told Akinci that he stands ready to help the Turkish Cypriot community in any way he can," Kousios told state radio.
The fires broke out on Sunday afternoon close to two villages, one on the northern shores of Cyprus and the other about ten kilometers inland.
Akinci was the first Turkish Cypriot community leader to visit the areas of the fires and he called President Anastasiades directly asking for firefighting aircraft to douse the quickly developing fires.
Turkish Cypriots had already started evacuating a university in a pine-forested area as the flames reached its outer perimeter.
The aircraft of the Cypriot government flew fire-fighting sorties alongside three helicopters which had been sent from Turkey.
The fires were contained by dusk but several hot spots burned till Monday morning.
In 2017, the Turkish Cypriot leader refused an offer of help by Anastasiades to put out a large fire in the same area.
Several fires broke out on both sides of a buffer zone dividing Cyprus, as the eastern Mediterranean island is in the hold of a prolonged heatwave which sent temperatures soaring to 43 degrees Celsius in the western part of Cyprus on Sunday, more than 13 degrees above the seasonal average for this time of the year.
The Meteorological service issued an orange warning for high temperatures, saying that 43 degrees are expected again on Tuesday, after 42 degrees were recorded in the capital Nicosia on Monday.
Met Service director Kleanthis Nicolaides told state television that the unusually long and early heat wave will continue until Saturday, when a significant drop in temperature is expected to be followed by summer rain and storms.
The Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities are currently completely isolated from each other, as nine crossing points on the buffer zone have been closed down as part of the measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Enditem