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Explosions at Cyprus military base
At least eleven people reported dead after fire at munitions dump caused huge blasts at naval base in south of island.
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2011 08:37

At least eleven people have been killed after a series of explosions at a munitions dump in southern Cyprus.

Several huge explosions hit the Zygi naval base early on Monday morning.

"There were 98 containers of gunpowder. Two of them [caught] fire and huge explosions occurred," the Cyprus News Agency quoted a police spokesman as saying.

Kostas Yennaris, a journalist for Greek national television who is based in Nicosia, the capital, told Al Jazeera that there was a "huge explosion" and that ambulances and fire trucks were seen rushing to the scene.

He said that the site of the blasts had been cordoned off by the authorities, but debris from the explosions had been spread "over a huge area". Local media reported that the explosions sparked wildfires in adjacent scrubland.

Aliki Stylinaou, a defence ministry spokeswoman, said that the death toll could not immediately be confirmed, but local media quoted sources as saying that it was at least eight, with as many as 30 feared injured.

'Biblical disaster'

"It looks like a bombed-out landscape," a witness told Sigma television.

A spokesman for the state-run electricity authority said that the blasts, which struck shortly before 6:00am local time (3:00am GMT), also damaged the island's largest power station.

"We can't assess the extent of the damage, but it's a biblical disaster," spokesman Costas Gavrielides told Reuters.

Yiannis Tsouloftas, an official with the utility, said that the station had sustained extensive damage as a result of the concussion wave of the blast. He said that it would remain offline for at least Monday, with the island's two smaller power stations attempting to cover electricity demand.

The Vassilikos power station is very close to the Evangelos Florakis navy base, where the explosions occured. The base is located between the coastal cities of Limassol and Larnaca on the south side of Cyprus.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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