12 Jul 2011

Top level resignations after deadly Cyprus blast

8:30 am on 12 July 2011

The defence minister and the head of the army in Cyprus have resigned after huge explosions at a munitions dump killed at least 12 people.

The victims included the commander of the Cypriot navy and the head of the Evangelos Florakis naval base where the blasts happened.

The explosions were caused by a fire igniting containers of explosives confiscated from a ship two years ago.

Officials say all 98 containers of explosive stored in the munitions dump at the base had exploded.

They had been seized from a Cypriot-flagged ship, the Monchegorsk, which was intercepted travelling from Iran in January 2009.

A government spokesman said sabotage had been ruled out.

The fire spread to the island's largest power station, resulting in widespread power cuts.

Defence Minister Costas Papacostas and National Guard Chief Petros Tsalikides resigned over the accident, the BBC reports.