A ship has docked in Cyprus in a bid to collect out-of-date munitions to be transported to a safe location outside the island and disposed of.
According to the MoD, the government signed a €1million deal with a Spanish company to undertake the operation of ridding Cyprus of its munitions waste.
According to National Guard Leader Lieutenant General Stylianos Nasis, around 3,500 tonnes of munitions have already been systematically destroyed around Cyprus but that process has been “very dangerous in my opinion.”
He went on to tell the House Defence Committee recently that the state would need to cough up a further €12.8m to destroy the remaining munitions or run the risk of “mourning more victims”.
In July 2011, 98 containers of explosives that had been stored for over two years in the sun on the Mari naval base exploded killing 13 people, including Navy Commander Andreas Ioannides, base commander Lambros Lambrou as well as four navy personnel and six fire-fighters.
An independent inquiry laid the blame on former president Demetris Christofias while the defence minister at the time, Costas Papacostas, was sentenced to five years jail this year.
Three Fire Services officials were handed two-year jail terms.
The blast also resulted in Cyprus being without power in the immediate aftermath of the incident and rolling blackouts were initiated in order to conserve supplies. The blast also set back the state some €3billion prior to the banking crisis.
Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou yesterday met with his Italian counterpart, Mario Mauro, yesterday to discuss strengthening relations in the Mediterranean Sea between Cyprus and Italy.
“After the discovery of hydrocarbons within Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone, the need for energy security has been heightened which is why our two countries have agreed to cooperate”, said Fotiou yesterday. “The fact that (Italian petroleum group ENI has vested interests in Cyprus’ EEZ has seen relations strengthen between our two nations.”