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Deadly Explosion Of Seized Iranian Weapons Kills 12 On Cyprus


Emergency personnel stand near a destroyed fire engine and bodies at the scene of a large explosion at a military base in southern Cyprus.
Huge explosions have rocked the main Greek Cypriot naval base at Zygi in the south of the divided island, killing at least 12 people, including the commander of Cyprus's navy, and knocking out a power station.

The explosions at the Evangelos Florakis base reportedly occurred early on July 11 at a cache of weapons seized in 2009 from an Iranian ship that was en route to Syria.

A spokesman said the government had ruled out sabotage as a cause.

The blasts left dozens injured and devastated a nearby village.

The commander of Cyprus's navy, Andreas Ioannides, was among those killed.

Both Defense Minister Costas Papacostas and the commander of the National Guard, Petros Tsaliklides, have resigned as a result of the incident.

Damage to the nearby Vassiliko power station, which supplies almost half of the electricity on Cyprus, triggered power outages across large swathes of the island.

The loss of electricity also prompted the closure of Cyprus's desalination plants, which had allowed the gradual abandonment of summer water rationing over the past two years.

Cyprus has been divided along ethnic lines since 1974, when the Turkish army occupied its northern third in response to an Athens-engineered coup aimed at union with Greece.

The Greek-speaking south of the island became an EU member in 2004.

compiled from agency reports

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