Cyprus president apologizes for deadly blast

July 15, 2011 - 3:59 AM
Cyprus Naval Base Explosion

A relative holding the photos of Miltiades and Christakis Christoforou grieve before the funeral service for the twin brothers in the island's coastal town of Limassol on Thursday July 14, 2011. The 19-year-old twins who were serving the Cypriot navy as part of their compulsory military service, were killed in a massive explosion of seized gunpowder at Cyprus' main naval base on Monday. The blast killed another 11 people, knocked out a key power station and forced the resignation of the defense minister and military chief. The gunpowder was packed inside most of the 98 containers which had been stacked one on top of the other in an open field at the navy base since 2009, when they were seized from the Cypriot-flagged M/V Monchegorsk that the United Nations said was breaching a ban on Iranian arms exports. Military officials had expressed fears of what exposure to the elements would have on the containers and the gunpowder.(AP Photos/Philippos Christou)

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus' president has apologized for a deadly explosion that killed 13 at a naval base.

Dimitris Christofias said on Friday that twin probes into why dozens of gunpowder-filled containers exploded will reach his office.

He again appealed for calm and for justice to take its course amid a groundswell of public anger over how those containers had been stored since being confiscated from an Iran chartered ship in 2009.

Peaceful mass gatherings outside the presidential palace in Nicosia to protest Monday's blast have been held almost nightly.

Thousands had marched to the palace on Tuesday, and police arrested 20 people during clashes as some of the crowd briefly broke into the presidential palace grounds.