Five years after an explosion at the Mari Naval Base killed 13 people, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades presided over a memorial service.
He said that the state had shown “unprecedented failures, shortcomings and committed cumulative and recurring errors, ” leading to the tragedy, the Cyprus Mail reported.
“Today is a day that we – as we are the ones in positions of responsibility in this country – bow our heads and think why and how we got to this tragedy,” he said.
Anastasiades repeated the state’s apologies for “all that we, as government” should have done but didn’t.
“We share the pain and sorrow and share the anger of the parents, spouses, children and siblings of those who were unfairly and tragically lost,” he added.
“July 11, 2011 not only marks our debt of honor to those who gave their lives, but also the obligation to take responsibility on the part of the state,” he added.
The July 11, 2011 explosion was the worst peacetime military accident ever recorded in Cyprus as 98 containers of explosives that had been stored for 2½ years in the sun on the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base near Zygi self-detonated.
Among the dead were Captain Andreas Ioannides, the Commander of the Navy, and the base commander, Lambros Lambrou. Also killed were four navy personnel and six firefighters, while a further 62 people were injured.
The explosion severely damaged hundreds of nearby buildings including all of the buildings in Zygi and the island’s largest power station, responsible for supplying over half of Cyprus’ electricity.
As a result, much of Cyprus was without power in the immediate aftermath of the incident and rolling blackouts were initiated in order to conserve supplies.
The Cypriot Defence Minister and the Commander-in-Chief of the Cypriot National Guard both resigned and angry protests against the government followed.