Cyprus Mail

Focus turns to Mitsero’s toxic ‘red lake’, still searching Xyliatos for Sierra (updated)

The Mitsero 'red lake' (Photo: Christos Theodorides)


Authorities on Friday were searching three areas in a bid to find traces of four unaccounted victims of suspected serial killer Nicos Metaxas after he allegedly told authorities where to look for three additional bodies.

In total there may be seven victims.

At around 1.30pm, a surface-supplied diver went into a lake at Xyliatos in search for the missing six-year-old daughter of Mary Rose Tiburcio, 39, from the Philippines, whose body was found on April 14 in a mine shaft in nearby Mitsero.

Mother and daughter Sierra went missing last May.

A week later search crews retrieved another body from the same shaft, thought to be of Arian Palanas Lozano, 28, also from the Philippines, who disappeared in July 2018 but a post-mortem was unable to definitively identify her.

In the Mitsero area, in a location known as Kokkinopezoula, crews were considering ways of conducting a search in what is known as the Red Lake, a toxic environment, which makes things difficult for search crews.

There, 35-year-old Metaxas, is supposed to have dumped the bodies of Maricar Valdez Arquiola, 30 from the Philippines who was reported missing in December 2017, and Livia Florentina Bunea, 36, from Romania and her eight-year-old Elena Natalia, who disappeared on September 30, 2016 in Nicosia.

Further south, near a firing range in Orounta, forensic teams were combing the immediate area surrounding a well where authorities recovered a third body of an unidentified woman. Metaxas allegedly told authorities it was a woman who was either from India or Nepal. It was badly decomposed.

Fire service chief Marcos Trangolas said divers were searching specific points in the Xyliatos lake, which the suspect had pointed out.

“The aim is to explore the critical points, among others, step by step,” he said.

However, searching the Red Lake would be a difficult task for crews due to the toxicity of the water. Tests showed a high acidity, which prohibited diving using normal equipment.

There were also concerns about the use of the robotic camera in such an environment and the private contractors were waiting for expert advice on how to proceed.

“The search at the Mitsero lake will be carried out one way or another,” Trangolas said.

President Nicos Anastasiades appealed for calm on Friday amid growing outrage over the perceived failure of the police to properly investigate their disappearance initially, which could have led to Metaxas’ earlier arrest.

In a presidency statement from China where he is taking part in the Belt and Road Forum, Anastasiades said he was shocked by the cold-blooded murders but appealed for calm until the case was resolved.

“The president suggested calm until the conclusion of the police investigation before all the procedures are examined under the light of this shocking experience and the necessary reviews and corrections are made and potential blame assigned,” the statement said.

On Saturday, acting president Demetris Syllouris will attend a service at the Holy Cross Catholic church in Nicosia as a show of support to foreign nationals living and working in Cyprus and an expression of the pain the loss of life has caused the Cypriot people.

Meanwhile, a Facebook post Friday morning from a representative of the Filipino community in Cyprus announced a march on the presidential palace at 6pm demanding justice ‘for those women who have been lost’.

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