Blast rips through Cyprus base, 8 killed
Nicosia, July 11, 2011
At least eight people were killed and dozens injured in a massive blast which ripped through a military base in Cyprus on Monday and shut down the island's largest power plant.
The explosion was thought to have occured in a munitions dump storing confiscated Iranian weapons in the Cypriot Evangelos Florakis navy base on the island's south coast.
Fire from the blast spread to Vassilikos, an electricity facility which provides Cyprus with half of its power.
"We can't assess the extent of the damage, but it's a biblical disaster," spokesman Costas Gavrielides told Reuters. Police and army officials gave little detail about the incident which happened just before 0300 GMT. The official Cyprus News Agency reported at least eight people had been killed, and dozens hurt.
"There are a number of dead which we cannot confirm yet," a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said. Ambulances were seen rushing to the scene, while hospitals all over the island issued emergency appeals for blood.
The military base stored munitions from the Monchegorsk, which Cyprus intercepted sailing from Iran to Syria in 2009 after pressure from the US, confiscating its cargo for being in violation of UN sanctions on Iran.
The intensity of the blast caused extensive damage to property nearby and to a popular tourist resort 3 km away, where windows and doors of beachside restaurants were blown out. - Reuters