Mari (Cyprus), Jul 11: Huge blasts in a seized Iranian arms cache at a Greek Cypriot naval base in southern Cyprus killed at least 12 people today, triggering power and water outages at the height of summer.
The commander of Cyprus's navy, Andreas Ioannides, was among the dead, as was the commander of the Evangelos Florakis naval base, Lambros Lambrou, police and the National Guard said in a joint statement.
Four other members of the armed forces and six firefighters also died.
The early morning explosions devastated the adjacent Vassiliko power station in what Commerce Minister Antonis Paschalides called a “tragedy of Biblical dimensions” for the small Mediterranean island.
The plant produces almost 60 per cent of the country's electricity supply.
Massive damage was caused to homes in the nearby village of Mari, forcing the evacuation of its 150 residents, the village headman told AFP.
Government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said 62 people were injured, two of them seriously, and announced three days of official mourning.
Defence Minister Costas Papacostas and Greek Cypriot National Guard commander Petros Tsaliklides resigned at an emergency cabinet meeting, Stefanou said.
The defence ministry had held talks last week about storage conditions after National Guard chiefs reportedly expressed concerns about the arms cache being kept in the open as temperatures touched 40 degrees Celsius.
“Decisions were taken on protecting the material but unfortunately this was not possible as time ran out,” Stefanou said, promising a “thorough investigation.” (AFP)