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Cyprus

Tonnes of obsolete munitions removed

Vassilikos power station

Some 1,300 tonnes of old munitions have been removed from the island in recent days, the defence minister said on Monday, as part of an effort to get rid of all obsolete ammo in army depots.

“It is a matter that the new government has set as a high priority because it affects the security of the personnel and the public,” Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou told lawmakers.

Authorities started destroying old munitions following a 2011 explosion at a naval base that killed 13 sailors and firemen and damaged the island’s main power station at Vassilikos.

The munitions did not belong to Cyprus’ National Guard, but in the aftermath of the explosion and reports that tonnes of expired ammo were stored by the army, often haphazardly, authorities embarked on an effort to remove the danger.

Last weekend, the minister said, around 1,300 tonnes of obsolete medium and large calibre munitions were removed.

The effort will continue, he added.

“There are still hundreds of tonnes of munitions that need to be removed and destroyed,” the Fotiou said.

The process will take place abroad.

He added that the defence ministry has signed a four-year framework agreement with five companies so that similar cases can be dealt with immediately should they arise in the future.

Thousands of 40mm Bofors rounds were destroyed at the end of 2011.

They had been stored in an open area in a depot near a residential area in Palodhia, Limassol.

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