With the experience of a tragedy like never before, the Cypriot volunteers of the Fire Brigade, EMAK and the Civil Defense who were operating in Greece returned from the fire.
The 35 members of the group arrived yesterday morning from Elefsina by a Greek Air Force aircraft. The volunteers were welcomed with gratitude by the Ministers of Justice and Interior. “It simply came to our notice then. Heartbreaking. It is different to see such situations on TV and different to experience them and even to try “, noted the assistant director of the Fire Service and head of the firefighters operating in Greece, Dimitris Katsiflis. The fires in Greece, he said, “were one of the worst I have faced in my career.” This, he explained, was not due to the fact that it was a large-scale fire that broke out only in forest or rural areas, but because the urban fabric was also involved, which means that human lives and property were endangered.
As Mr. Katsiflis clarified, the mission left on August 4 to provide assistance in the firefighting efforts. “It was one of the first missions sent to Greece, and we tried from the first day, after we were first informed about the situation that prevailed on the fire front.” The rest of the days, he said, they operated in the wider area of Attica and in Evia. “Fortunately, the fires have been reduced and in view of this event, the departure of the missions from the various countries that were sent for help has begun.”
For his part, the head of the Civil Defense team and director in the Larnaca province, Chrysilios Chrysiliou, said that throughout the effort they received the support of the citizens. “They ran to support us, to bring us water, food many times and to cheer us up. We saw their pain in their eyes and their movements. Their panic many times “. He expressed the belief that “soon Greece will be reborn from its ashes. “Citizens are strong, we saw that.” Every day, Mr. Chrysiliou noted, was special. “A different experience and danger in terms of environment, forest, residential and steep areas, that we could neither predict nor know. They informed us late at night that we would leave the next morning and then they told us the mission of the day “.
Mr. Chrysiliou also referred to the daily feeling of fear, which arose from the fact that they saw their team climbing steep slopes with bags of water on their backs to reach somewhere far away and put out a fire. “We did not know exactly its size either,” he said. The Minister of Justice, Stefi Drakou, expressed the thanks of the Republic of Cyprus to the volunteers. He expressed feelings of great pride in the efforts made. “You gave your 'present' from the first moment and bravely threw yourself into the battle against the fiery nightmare.” In addition, the Minister of Interior, Nikos Nouris, stated that an oasis in this catastrophic development for Greece, was for the fire victims the altruism shown by the Cypriot mission.