Cyprus Mail

Small piece of Noratlas found

Excavations at the Tomb of Makedonitissa

By George Psyllides

CREWS working to unearth a military transport plane in search of remains of Greek airborne commandos killed in July 1974, have found a small piece of the aircraft, a senior official said on Saturday.

“It has been confirmed that the piece is from the Noratlas,” Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Issues Fotis Fotiou told the Sunday Mail, adding it was found using a metal detector. It measures around 50 centimetres.

The piece was found during the first phase of excavations at the Tomb of Makedonitissa, a military cemetery and war memorial, in search of the commandos’ remains.

They were killed when their Noratlas plane was shot down by friendly fire during the Turkish invasion early on July 22.

The first phase entailed preparing the ground for the main excavation phase, which is expected to start next week.

“The important stage is the one starting now,” Fotiou said.

The piece was found buried in the mound under the monument commemorating those killed during the Turkish invasion.

The ill-fated aircraft carried 28 commandos and four crew. Only one commando survived after he jumped out of the flaming transport plane before it crashed.

The remains of 12 others killed in the incident have been identified through DNA tests but 19 were still missing, believed to have been buried along with the aircraft’s fuselage.

Excavations to trace the commandos’ remains at the Lakatamia military cemetery wrapped up in May with no success so the search is being moved to the Tomb of Makedonitissa.

The aircraft was part of operation ‘Niki,’ victory in Greek, a secret operation on July 21 to carry a battalion of Greek commandos from Crete to Cyprus in 15 aircraft.

Thirteen made it to Cyprus – one returned to Crete and the other landed in Rhodes.


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