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Cyprus marks Mari blast anniversary (updated)

It is crucial to reach a solution of the Cyprus problem which will bring peace and security across the entire country and create conditions of cooperation and prosperity for all its citizens, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday, addressing a memorial service at a naval base marking the anniversary of a munitions blast that killed 13 sailors and firemen seven years ago.

The early morning blast on July 11, 2011 killed seven sailors and six firemen. It had been caused by munitions haphazardly stored at the Evangelos Florakis naval base for more than two years.

The munitions, stored in 98 containers, had been confiscated in 2009 from a Cyprus-flagged ship en route to Syria and were then stacked in an open space at the base and left exposed to the elements until the day of the explosion, despite repeated warnings about the risks.

As a result of the explosion and the shock wave that followed, the nearby Vassiliko power station, the main one on the island, sustained extensive damage leading to rolling power cuts for a month after the blast.

Anastasiades said the greatest honour to those killed was to reach an “honest solution which will rid us of the consequences of the 1974 Turkish invasion, which constitutes the darkest hour in our recent history”.

“This is why it is crucial for us to reach a solution bringing peace and security across the country and creating conditions of cooperation and prosperity for all its citizens,” he added.

The solution, he said, should be fully compatible with Cyprus’ status as an EU member state, something which guaranteed its functionality and viability, creating conditions of peaceful coexistence.

Later in the day, the fire service honoured the six firemen who were killed on duty at the blast.

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