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Athalassa excavation ‘difficult and complicated’, Photiou says

A map of the area presented during the meeting on Tuesday

Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou said on Tuesday that practical problems have arisen with regard to excavations at Athalassa Psychiatric Hospital, near the capital Nicosia, where 31 Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots were buried, following air raids by the Turkish air force, during the 1974 Turkish invasion.

According to Photiou, who cited  witness testimonies, the largest part of the grave, a crater created by the bombing, is located under a road, while a smaller part is under the morgue of the nearby new Nicosia General Hospital.

A meeting took place on Tuesday at Photiou’s office, attended by representatives of the health ministry and the departments of public works and geological surveys.

“Some problems have arisen which we should address with attention and professionalism,” Photiou told the press after the meeting, noting that coordination is needed to carry out the excavation.

“Thirty-one compatriots of ours lie there, including three Turkish Cypriots, who were hospitalised at Athalassa and were killed in a terrible way during the bombing of the Nicosia Psychiatric Hospital by the Turkish Air Force. The bodies were buried in a large crater created by the bombs of the Turkish planes,” Photiou noted.

The Commissioner spoke of a “difficult and complicated excavation”, but stressed that “despite the problems and the difficulties, the excavation will be successfully concluded because we owe answers to the families”.

Based on the testimonies, he said, it seems that part of the grave is under the morgue of the hospital, but the largest part is located under a nearby road, which, if true, it will make it easier to overcome the problem with practical solutions.
He said that all the necessary actions will be taken in the next ten days and that the relevant proposal will be submitted to the Cabinet in June.

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