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Cyprus

Second phase of Noratlas search begins

Fotis Fotiou at the site

The second phase of excavations to locate Noratlas, a Greek military plane shot down by friendly fire during the 1974 Turkish invasion, began on Thursday at the Tomb of Makedonitissa in Nicosia, Commissioner for Humanitarian Issues Fotis Fotiou told the Cyprus News Agency.

“Our goal and wish is not only to find the fuselage but also to locate the remains of the Greek airmen who were on board the plane,” he said.

According to Fotiou, the geophysical study showed that scientifically, excavations were on the right track. This was important, he said, and wished that everything went well.

Foreign experts are in Cyprus to help with the excavations and have met with the local team to coordinate and plan the second phase, Fotiou said. The plan is to complete the second phase during November though Fotiou said it was a huge undertaking and unforeseen difficulties could easily arise.

“The good news is that the whole team is in Cyprus, there is a joint plan and we have experts who are specialists in military excavations with a lot of experience in this field,” he said.
The first phase was completed much earlier than expected and identified three areas of interest.

The aircraft was part of a secret mission from Greece to send reinforcements to the Greek Cypriot National Guard fighting the advancing Turkish troops, equipped with the state-of-the-art military hardware. The plane was shot down on July 22 by friendly fire as Greek Cypriot soldiers mistook it for a hostile aircraft. All but one of its airmen were killed. Thirty-two men were on board the Noratlas.

The Council of Ministers decided in February 2014 to proceed with the excavations following a case against the Republic of Cyprus brought before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2007 by the families of two Greek military officers who perished in the incident.

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