Naval Blast: Condolences from International Community
Described by President Demetris Christofias as destruction of 'biblical proportions', the blast caused fires in nearby Vassiliko power station and injured dozens of people. There are electricity blackouts in Nicosia, Limassol, and the Larnaca region. The government has declared a three-day mourning period and the dead will receive a state funeral, said government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou.
Greece has sent a C-27 plane with security forces to help Cypriot authorities in their investigation, said a statement from the Greek Embassy.
"On the part of the Greek government and Prime Minister, I wish first of all to express our deepest condolences, solidarity and support to the Cypriot Hellenism, Cyprus President Demetris Christofias, the government and all the political forces over this tragic event that has shocked Cyprus and Greece and has resulted in the death of Cypriot citizens. To the families of the dead, I express our deep grief and most heartfelt condolences," Greek defence minister Panos Beglitis said
European Commission President Barroso said: "I am very saddened by the loss of life in the terrible explosion which happened this morning near the town of Larnaca, killing so many people."
The President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek sent his condolences and support to the families of the victims following the blast, saying "I would like to send my sincere condolences to the families who lost their loved ones. Our hearts and minds are with the families who have suffered loss and injury and the inhabitants of the area for the destruction they are facing. We give our full support to the people of Cyprus, the rescue teams and those offering assistance."
In Cyprus, Turkish-Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu sent condolences to President Christofias, and UNFICYP Chief of Mission, Lisa M. Buttenheim said: "I was saddened to learn about the deadly explosion at the Evangelos Florakis naval base in Zygi...I have been in contact with President Christofias to express the deep concern of the United Nations and to offer our assistance."
As an initial step UNFICYP has reduced its consumption of electricity and water across its operations given the extensive damage sustained by the nearby power plant resulting in large-scale power shortages. The mission has also offered to donate blood, said Mrs. Buttenheim.
The explosion happened at 5:55am and was caused by high explosives stored in containers on the base.
The rescue operation is still going on, and nationwide messages are going out to Cypriots appealing for them to save electricity and give blood to help the victims of the blast.