Europe

Official: Massive Cyprus forest fire under control

  • People watch a forest fire that continues to rage out of control for a third day in the mountainous areas southwest of Cyprus' capital Nicosia Tuesday, June 21, 2016. The fire has claimed the lives of two fire fighters. More planes from Italy and France are expected later Tuesday to join 16 other aircraft from Greece, Israel, Cyprus and British forces stationed on two military bases on the east Mediterranean island in battling the fire. (AP Photo/Philippos Christou )

    People watch a forest fire that continues to rage out of control for a third day in the mountainous areas southwest of Cyprus' capital Nicosia Tuesday, June 21, 2016. The fire has claimed the lives of two fire fighters. More planes from Italy and France are expected later Tuesday to join 16 other aircraft from Greece, Israel, Cyprus and British forces stationed on two military bases on the east Mediterranean island in battling the fire. (AP Photo/Philippos Christou )  (The Associated Press)

  • A helicopter drops water in efforts to contain a huge forest fire that continues to rage out of control for a third day in the mountainous areas southwest of Cyprus' capital Nicosia Tuesday, June 21, 2016. The fire has claimed the lives of two fire fighters. More planes from Italy and France are expected later Tuesday to join 16 other aircraft from Greece, Israel, Cyprus and British forces stationed on two military bases on the east Mediterranean island in battling the fire. (AP Photo/Philippos Christou )

    A helicopter drops water in efforts to contain a huge forest fire that continues to rage out of control for a third day in the mountainous areas southwest of Cyprus' capital Nicosia Tuesday, June 21, 2016. The fire has claimed the lives of two fire fighters. More planes from Italy and France are expected later Tuesday to join 16 other aircraft from Greece, Israel, Cyprus and British forces stationed on two military bases on the east Mediterranean island in battling the fire. (AP Photo/Philippos Christou )  (The Associated Press)

Cyprus' justice minister says the massive fire that has burned huge tracts of pine forest in the east Mediterranean island's mountains over the last four days is now under control.

Ionas Nicolaou told the AP Thursday hundreds of firefighters and some 80 vehicles remain on alert to extinguish smoldering embers on the fire's perimeter that could result in possible flare-ups.

One firefighting aircraft remains in the air to direct ground crews of any problem areas in difficult, mountainous terrain. Cyprus Forestry Department Chief Takis Tsintides told state radio that winds have died down, despite temperatures hovering at around 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit).

This was one of Cyprus' worst fires, turning countless 150-year-old pines to cinders. In a statement, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades thanked all who contributed to firefighting efforts.