Police said Wednesday they were treating the death of a woman in a Nicosia fire as murder and have issued an arrest warrant for a 32-year-old Syrian man.
The charred body of a woman was found after a fire broke out in a cafe bar in central Nicosia early on Wednesday. She has not yet been officially identified though reports suggested she is a third country national who arrived in Cyprus late last year.
Reports suggested the authorities suspect the aim was to torch the establishment and not to kill the woman.
The woman was the second person in four days to be found dead after a fire set deliberately.
In Larnaca, a 21-year-old man was remanded on Wednesday for eight days after admitting to attacking and killing 76-year-old Giorgos Mavrommatis last Sunday and setting the victim’s house on fire to destroy evidence.
Wednesday’s fire in Nicosia started at around 2.40am in a building sandwiched between Costaki Pantelidi and Rigenis Streets in the old town of Nicosia.
A loud explosion was also heard.
The fire was extinguished shortly after 5.00am with the help of four fire trucks and when the officers entered the premises to begin their investigations, they found the dead woman in a flat on the first floor.
According to police other tenants living on the second floor got away.
The flat on the first floor was badly damaged by smoke and the apartment on the second floor was also affected.
The suspect was described as being 1.65 metres tall, normal built, with short black hair.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts should contact Nicosia CID on 22802222, 22802231 or their nearest police station or the public hotline 1460.
The explosion caused damage to two shops located underneath the pub on Rigenis Street, a kiosk and a jewellery shop, that were without electricity on Wednesday and are to remain without power for a few more days until the damage is restored.
The jewellery shop owner, Yiannos Iacovou, went to work on Wednesday morning to find his premises flooded, as the water the fire service used to extinguish the blaze, run through the false ceiling into the shop.
But material damage aside, area residents and business owners are shocked by the loss of human life.
The incident has shed light on another issue, that of proper planning in cases of emergencies such as that of Wednesday’s, as according to Iacovou, it was only by chance the other tenants of the building escaped unscathed.
Authorities, he said, ought to have a plan of each building in the area so that they know how to get people out with safety in cases of fire.
“They did not help the people to exit the building,” Iacovou told the Cyprus Mail.
He added that tenants, including two young girls, had to jump off the top-floor balconies to save themselves.
The issue of health and safety was also raised by others in the area.