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Cyprus Blast Results in Death, Widespread Power Cuts

Smoke is seen in front of a damaged building by the power station in Mari on July 11, 2011 after huge explosions, reportedly from seized munitions, rocked the nearby Greek-Cypriot "Evangelos Florakis" naval base leaving several dead and injured.

Twelve people have been killed and about 30 injured in a blast at a munitions dump in Cyprus. The island's largest power station has been damaged, resulting in widespread power cuts.

The force of the dawn explosions blew out virtually every window in the neighboring village of Zygi and extensively damaged the islands main power station, which remains offline.

Large-scale damage could be seen to a huge section of the barriers of the main Larnaca-Limassol highway and a huge crater about 500 meters from the power station was shown on state TV.

A store of munitions, which were seized from an Iranian vessel heading to Syria, is the probable culprit of the explosion - after brush fires spread to the area in which they were stored.

The high explosives were moved to a warehouse on the base from an Iranian cargo ship in 2009, which was stopped by U.N. forces. Cypriot authorities impounded the weapons under a sanctions resolution adopted by the Security Council.

Hermes Soloman was in a camper van at nearby holiday park when the explosion struck, he told VOA News what he experienced.

"Basically at quarter to six in the morning there was a huge explosion, rather like a sonic boom with the wind and pressure of a bomb," Soloman said. "I only ended up with smashed doors and windows and the sides of the van remained in tact, because the pressure was taken with the air going through the van. It is chaos really, because we have no electricity, its chaos really.”

Interior Minister Neoklis Sylikiotis said a village just east of the base was devastated by the explosion with virtually every home damaged.

Cyprus has now been warned to expect electric cuts for the next few months as the damaged power station had supplied 60 percent of the islands electric.

Costandinos Tsindas is from Cyprus Television told VOA News that the electric cuts will be implemented soon, during what is the height of summer, when temperatures can reach 43 C.

"The electricity authority has already appealed to people not to use air conditioning across the island because this is going to be a big problem, in what is the middle of summer, so there are bound to be many problems in the terms of supply of electricity," Tsindas said.

Cyprus President Demetris Christofias also visited the stricken base ahead of an emergency Cabinet meeting, which will discuss why explosives were stored so close to the main power plant.