Explosion at Cyprus naval base, 10 feared dead

July 11, 2011 - 2:40 AM

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — A huge explosion tore through a naval base in southern Cyprus Monday, causing widespread damage, the Defense Ministry said. Around 10 people are feared dead.

Spokeswoman Aliki Stylianou could not immediately confirm the cause of the explosion which occured at the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base on the Mediterranean island's southern coast at around 6 a.m. (0300GMT).

State television CyBC reported that the explosion also caused numerous injuries and extensive damage to homes in villages near the naval base.

State radio quoted National Guard Chief Petros Tsalikides who is at the naval base as saying that the explosion caused a "great catastrophe."

Video broadcast on CyBC showed numerous damaged cars stopped along a stretch of highway near the naval base. One person who was in one of the cars passing the base at the time of the explosion told CyBC that it felt like "a bomb had been dropped on the car."

Police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos said that a fire at a nearby Vasiliko power station has been contained.

Cyprus Electricity Authority official Yiannis Tsouloftas said the power station — the island's primary electricity generator — sustained extensive damage as a result of the explosion's concussion wave and will remain offline for at least Monday.

Tsouloftas said the island's two other smaller power stations will try to cover electricity demand, but authorities are appealing to the public to reduce consumption as much as possible.