Navy Chief Among 12 Killed in Vast Cyprus Explosion

98 containers of seized Iranian munitions explode
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2011 12:03 AM CDT
The Mari power station, the island's primary electricity generator, was damaged by the explosion.   (AP Photo/Philippos Christou)
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(Newser) – A brush fire ignited a huge cache of seized Iranian gunpowder at a naval base in Cyprus yesterday, setting off a massive explosion that killed at least a dozen people and wounded 62 others. The country's naval chief and the base's commander were among the dead, as were six firefighters, reports the BBC. The country's defense minister and army chief have resigned over the incident.

The blast damaged the country's largest power station, causing widespread blackouts. The 98 containers of gunpowder had been kept out in the open in scorching temperatures since they were seized from a ship sailing to Syria from Iran in 2009. A meeting was held last week to discuss the seized munitions, but decisions to safeguard the material had not been implemented, said a government spokesman.

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