Tue, 11 Aug 2020

NICOSIA, July 11 (Xinhua) -- Cyprus on Saturday marked the ninth anniversary of a mammoth explosion of conventional explosives in 2011, which killed 13 people and injured 62 more.

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades attended a memorial service for those killed, including Captain Andreas Ioannides, the commander of the Cyprus navy, and Lambros Lambrou, the commander of the Florakis Naval Base, where the explosion occurred.

Most of the dead were navy personnel and fire fighters who were trying to put out a fire in containers with explosives.

Anastasiades said in a memorial speech that the responsibility and self-denial shown by those killed make the holders of state office responsible to never allow mistakes and omission such as those which led to the explosion.

The 13 people were killed in the early morning blast as they tried to put out fires in munitions which had been haphazardly stored for more than two years in the scorching temperatures of the Mediterranean summers and in humid conditions that eroded both the explosives and the containers in which they were stored.

The munitions, stored in 98 containers, had been confiscated in 2009 under United Nations (UN) sanctions measures on Iran from a Cyprus-flagged ship sailing to Syria.

The force of the explosion wrecked a power station less than one kilometer away, which covered half of the country's electricity needs, and damaged several houses in a nearby village.

The explosion was estimated to have wiped out 2.83 billion U.S. dollars of the country's 24.66-billion-dollar economy and speeded up the onset of a looming crisis that culminated in a 2013 bailout of Cyprus by the Eurogroup and the International Monetary Fund.

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