Huge blast at Cypriot naval base kills 12

MARI, Cyprus, July 11 (UPI) -- A blast "like a sonic boom" at a Cypriot naval base killed at least 12 people, injured dozens and knocked out power on much of the island, officials said.

At least 59 people were injured in the explosion Monday, officials said.


National Guard Lt. Gen. Petros Tsalikidis said the blast occurred in an ammunition dump at the Evangelos Florakis base near Mari, the Cyprus Mail reported.

"There was an explosion in containerized ammunition, which [was] seized from a ship three years ago, and we are trying to manage the crisis," Tsalikidis said.

Much of Cyprus was without power because the blast knocked out the island's largest power station at Vassiliko, the Famagusta Gazette reported. The explosion caused extensive damage to the area near the naval base and sparked wildfires.

Cyprus Electricity Authority spokesman Costas Gavrielides described the incident as a "biblical disaster." Witnesses told the Cyprus Mail car windows blew out and the naval facility and the Vassiliko power station were shrouded in smoke.

One witness at a beach campsite said about 300 campers were awakened by the blast.

"It sounded like a sonic boom," the witness told the Mail. "People were running around the campsite terrified and some were trembling for a long time."


Military personnel said the munitions were from the Monchegorsk, which Cyprus intercepted sailing from Iran to Syria in 2009, confiscating its cargo for violating U.N. sanctions against Iran.

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