Cypriot Defence Minister Resigns After Blast Kills 12

Mari,  Cyprus, Jul 11: 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
cypriot defence minister resigns after blast...
PTI July 11, 2011 18:58 IST

Mari,  Cyprus, Jul 11: 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 Defense Minister Costas Papacostas resigned, as did the National Guard Chief, Petros Tsalikides. He said investigators have ruled out sabotage.

AFP adds: There were huge blasts in a seized Iranian weapons cache at a Greek Cypriot naval base in the south of the Mediterranean island.

The force of the explosions blew out virtually every window in the nearby fishing village of Zygi, whose seafront restaurants are popular with the many tourists who frequent the resort island, an AFP correspondent reported.

The island's largest power station at Vassiliko right next to the base was virtually levelled by the blast, causingwidespread power cuts that are likely to last for months.

Three of its four main buildings were virtually levelled along the generator's two main fuel tanks, the correspondent said.

The main motorway connecting the capital Nicosia with the island's second-largest city Limassol runs less than a kilometre (half a mile) from the plant and motorists passing at the time of the blasts reported debris flying through the air.

State television broadcast images of damaged vehicles, twisted road signs and debris strewn across the central reservation.

Five hours after the blasts, an AFP correspondent saw four fires still raging at the plant.

Interior Minister Neoklis Sylikiotis told the state CNA news agency that the village of Mari just east of the base was devastated by the explosion with virtually every home damaged. AFP

 
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