Cyprus’s government spokesman says the country’s defence minister and the head of the National Guard have resigned over a deadly explosion at a naval base that killed 12 people and injured more than 60.
Monday’s explosion at the National Guard’s Evangelos Florakis Naval Base on the Mediterranean island’s southern coast occurred when a brush fire set off containers of gunpowder that had been confiscated from a ship two years ago.
Government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said Defence Minister Costas Papacostas resigned, as did the National Guard Chief, Petros Tsalikides. He said investigators have ruled out sabotage.
State radio said the dead included two Cyprus navy sailors, two soldiers and five firefighters.
"We were devastated by this event, not so much by the material damage, but by the loss of human lives and the injury of many of our compatriots," said President Dimitris Christofias, who visited the naval base after the blast.
He described the scene at the base as a "a catastrophe of biblical proportions."
A Defence Ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was not complete, said the blast appeared to have been caused by a brush fire that broke out nearby and spread to the base.
The fire ignited gunpowder stored in containers that Cypriot authorities confiscated in February 2009 from a ship sailing off its coast. The ship, the Cypriot-flagged Monchegorsk, had been suspected of carrying the gunpowder from Iran to Gaza.
Fire department spokesman Leonidas Leonidou said firefighters received a call at 4:27 a.m. saying the fire was inside the base and near the containers.
"Whether it started on or off the base, and how it started, we cannot say," he told the AP.
"This is a tragedy for Cyprus," said Andros Kyprianou, leader of the country’s largest AKEL party. "It’s not exaggeration to say this is a massive catastrophe. The physical damage will be repaired, but the lives lost ... nothing can bring them back."
The concussion wave from the blast severely damaged the island’s main power station, leading to power cuts in several areas, including the southern town of Larnaca. Authorities appealed to the public to limit their electricity consumption, which has spiked amid a three-day heatwave that has led to temperatures of about 40 degrees Celsius.
Airport authorities said both Paphos and Larnaca airports were reducing power consumption to the minimum possible and had turned on their generators.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry also urged the public to reduce water consumption as much as possible because desalination plants had been taken offline due to power problems.
Power station remains online
Cyprus Electricity Authority official Yiannis Tsouloftas said the power station would remain offline for at least the rest of the day. The island’s two other smaller power stations were trying to cover electricity demand, Tsouloftas said.
"There are several parts of the island that are without power," Costas Gavrilidis, a spokesman for state power utility AHK, told state-run CyBC television.
CyBC footage showed numerous damaged cars stopped along a stretch of highway near the base. One person who was in a car passing the base at the time of the explosion told CyBC that it felt like "a bomb had been dropped on the car."
The broadcaster said the explosion also caused extensive damage to homes in villages near the naval base.
"I was driving to work and it was like a lightning bolt. It damaged the car and there was smashed glass and debris everywhere," Antonis Savvas, who received hospital treatment after the blast, told the TV station. "It was raining dust and debris — I don’t know how else to describe it. Thank God nobody in the car was hurt badly, the only thing that happened was this," he said nodding toward his injured arm in a sling.
Greek Defence Minister Panos Beglitis said Greece stood ready to provide any help that might be needed.
Roswell, UFOs and Project Pandora 2014 07 23 Well, now, this is interesting. In fact, it’s very interesting.
Over at the Department of Defense’s website you can find a file that has been declassified via the Freedom of Information Act on the subject of Project Pandora (which, to a significant degree, was focused on Cold War secrets, and how microwaves can affect the mind and body).
It’s a fascinating ...
Men of Europe, Put Down the Eckhart Tolle Book and Pick up Your Sword 2014 07 23 Remember who you really are...
The New Age Tactical Spiritual Military Industrial Complex supports murder and genocide. What is happening in Gaza today will eventually take place in London, Dublin, New York, Lisbon, Barcelona, Oslo, Glasgow, Melbourne, Stockholm, Auckland and Cape Town and wherever you are reading this article. Notice is being served upon all humanity. Not just the people of ...
Study Challenges Hypothesis that Birds Evolved from Dinosaurs 2014 07 23 The re-examination of Scansoriopteryx – a sparrow-sized, pre-Archaeopteryx, bird-like creature that lived in what is today China during the Jurassic period, about 154 million years ago – challenges the widely accepted hypothesis that birds are derived from land-dwelling dinosaurs that gained the ability to fly.
Unearthed in Inner Mongolia in 2002, Scansoriopteryx was previously classified as a theropod dinosaur, from which ...
Israeli Professor: Rape Hamas Militants’ Mothers and Sisters to Deter Terrorist Attacks 2014 07 23 An Israeli academic has claimed that raping wives and mothers of Palestinian Hamas militants is the only thing that could deter further terrorist attacks.
The remarks by renowned Middle East scholar Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University were made three weeks ago after the grim discovery of the bodies of the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, but the recording was published online (in ...
’Mysterious plane’ with no callsign spotted circling London for two hours 2014 07 23 Scotland Yard has declined to comment on reports of a mysterious eavesdropping spyplane circling London.
A radar tracking website showed an aircraft orbiting London at 10,000 feet for more than two hours.
The plane had no recognisable callsign but was identified as a twin-engine Cessna F406 with the registration G-BVJT.
The aircraft has been linked in the past to a shadowy fleet of ...