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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 November 2007, 11:56 GMT
Cyprus churches to pray for rain
Dried-up reservoir near Limassol, August 2007
Low rainfall has failed to replenish Cyprus' reservoirs
The Orthodox Church of Cyprus has ordered priests to pray for rain to end one of the island's worst droughts.

Archbishop Chrysostomos II, the church head, urged priests to pray together on 2 December for rainfall to end a drought that had "blighted" the land.

The archbishop said Cypriots were "justifiably anxious" over the threat to water supplies and agriculture.

Lower-than-average rainfall over the last year has drained the reservoirs on which Cyprus relies heavily for water.

Cyprus' largest dam is expected to run dry if there is no heavy rainfall within the next month, Reuters news agency reports.

Prolonged hot weather during the tourist season has further strained supplies, with most reservoirs on average only 8% full - as opposed to 25% last year.

"We are certain that by praying together with the warmest of spirit and deepest of faith it is possible that Almighty God will hear our prayers and grant our request," said a statement from the archbishop on Monday.

"Once again a drought has blighted our country and the people are worried because if the dry spell continues it will bring terrible consequences to farming, livestock and crops," the archbishop said.

Prayers for rain are rare in Cyprus, with the last one reported when a comparable drought struck the island in 1998.

The Orthodox Church is among Cyprus' biggest landowners, with sizeable investments in banking, construction, hotels and wine-making.

Famous heads of the church include the former Archbishop Makarios, whose overthrow in a Greek-inspired coup in 1974 triggered the Turkish invasion that has left the island divided.



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