From: Reuters
Published December 2, 2007 05:47 AM

Devout Cypriots pray for rain to end drought

NICOSIA (Reuters) - Devout Greek Cypriots converged on Orthodox churches on Sunday to pray for rain to end a crippling drought that threatens to empty the Mediterranean island's reservoirs by the end of the year.

"If we all pray with deep faith the Almighty shall heed us," Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos II said in a circular sent out to all churches, quoting from the Gospel of St. John.

"There is nothing else we can do but pray, that's all we have left," said pensioner Pantelis Ioannou, 68, as he emerged from a chapel under cloudy skies in a Nicosia suburb.

Dwindling rainfall has forced authorities to drill down to precious underground water deposits which have taken thousands of years to accumulate.

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On Friday reservoirs were on average 7.9 percent full, the main reservoir holding only 2.0 percent of its capacity, according to official data. Without rain, that reservoir will run dry in less than a month, authorities say.

Two desalination plants meet about 45 percent of the island's needs.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas, editing by Tim Pearce)

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