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Arson Suspected in Deadly Cyprus Forest Fire

Police in Cyprus have arrested a 67-year-old farmer on suspicion of arson in the conflagration that has killed four people and that Cypriote Interior Minister Nicos Nouris called “the most destructive fire since the founding of the Cyprus republic.” Police say an eyewitness saw the man driving away from the village of Arakapas, northeast of Limassol, at the same time the forest fire started there on Saturday. He could face charges of recklessly causing the deaths of four Egyptian laborers, ages 22 to 29, whose burned bodies were found by civil defense volunteers on Sunday outside the village of Odou. The victims, who worked in a greenhouse growing tomatoes, fled the fire in a small truck, which crashed down an embankment, and then tried to flee on foot. The fire has burned 55 square kilometers of woodland, damaging at least 50 homes, and forcing the evacuation of at least eight villages in the Troodos mountain range. Firefighters from all over the Eastern Mediterranean island country were mobilized to battle the blaze. In addition, aircraft from Greece, Israel, and Italy, as well as two helicopters from British military bases on Cyprus, are assisting in firefighting efforts from the sky.