The gunpowder believed to have ignited the blast had been stored in
containers confiscated from a ship bound for Syria in 2009. The ship,
identified as the Cypriot-flagged Monchegorsk, was said to have contained
numerous Iranian weapons, including 125mm shells, meant for the Hamas
regime in the Gaza Strip.
Officials said two of the 98 containers of
gunpowder caught fire and blew up.
The explosion, which killed the naval commander of
the Greek Cypriot state, Andreas Ioannides, also caused widespread damage,
including that of vehicles near the military facility.
"This was a great catastrophe," National Guard commander Gen. Petros
The blast also damaged the main power station in Cyprus and sparked
outages in several areas. The airports at Larnaca and Paphos have already
reduced power consumption.
"There are several parts of the island that are without power," Costas
Gavrilidis, a spokesman for state power utility AHK, said.
Officials said the explosion also injured 62 people, all of them
Hours later, Defense Minister Costas Papacostas and Tsalikides,
the National Guard chief, submitted their resignations.
"Decisions were taken on protecting the material, but unfortunately
there was not enough time for these decisions to be implemented," government
spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said.