Sunday's blustery winds almost cost two lives, when huge branches from an enormous eucalyptus tree crashed through the roof of a house in the Engomi area of Nicosia, while a pensioner and his son were having their Sunday morning coffee. Hambis Spanou and his son Petros managed to find refuge under the table, seconds before the roof gave way.
“I heard a crackling noise and realised what was happening. I just grabbed my father and pushed him to safety,” said Petros.
They suffered abrasions to the face and hands and the son was being kept for observation at Nicosia General Hospital, as he recently had open heart surgery and doctors were concerned by the shock of the incident.
The branches caused extensive damage to the house and destroyed the family car. Hambis wife, Elenitsa Spanou, was at church when it happened and told the state broadcaster that the threatening winds had really put the fear in them since Saturday morning.
“I didn’t sleep at all on Saturday night, scared that the tree would crash on our heads,” said Elenitsa.
Hambis and Elenitsa had been living in the house, near a busy intersection for the past four decades and they said that the eucalyptus tree had always been a problem that they had to live with.
“Branches from the tree frequently cause power cuts,” Elenitsa Spanou said. The couple repeatedly applied to the Forestry Department to log the eucalyptus, the last one remaining in the area, but had been rejected because it is the largest of its kind in Cyprus, more than 30 metres tall.
The couples’ other son, Nicos, accused authorities of negligence, arguing that they had put three peoples’ life at risk.
“Did they expect someone to die before they finally did something?” he said.
The family might be considering legal compensation action, with the couple now being forced to abandon their home (rented church property) and move in with their son.
Blustery winds across the island that persisted from Saturday morning through to yesterday evening, caused slight damage to homes, but there were no other serious incidents.