Excavations will begin in September at the site of the former Pachyammos hospital at Tylliria to find the remains of those killed during the August 1964 aerial bombing of the area by the Turkish air force, it was announced on Tuesday.
Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs Photis Photiou said the cabinet had given the green light for the excavations as they don’t come under the purview of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP).
Three sites have been identified for excavations, he said after a meeting to coordinate plans. One of the sites is the former Pachyammos hospital
“As a government we believe we have a legal and moral obligation to deliver the identified remains to the families of those killed in the 1964 Tylliria bombing so they can receive a decent burial according to our religion and traditions,” Photiou said.
“The exhumations from the three sites decided by the Council of Ministers will be carried out by Cypriot scientists and genetic researchers from the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics within September 2019.”
The effort was purely humanitarian, he added.
“The nursing staff and hospital guards lost their lives in a horrific manner during the bombings at the hospital, which was completely destroyed,” Photiou said.
He said the exact number who died in the hospital is unknown and these cases were not listed officially as missing persons.
Following the inter-communal violence which erupted in December 1963, Turkish Cypriots established a bridgehead at Kokkina in 1964, providing them with arms, volunteers and materials from Turkey.
Seeing this incursion of foreign weapons and troops as a major threat, the Cypriot government launched an attack on the bridgehead. Turkey retaliated by dispatching its fighter jets to bomb Greek positions.
For three days in August, Turkish warplanes bombed the Tylliria area, hitting residential areas and a hospital. Over 50 people were killed, including 19 civilians.
The threat of a Turkish military escalation and a resolution of the United Nations Security Council calling for a ceasefire ended the standoff on August 10, 1964.
Every year on August 8, Turkish Cypriots mark the anniversary of the bombing, travelling to the enclave by boat or crossing at the Limnitis checkpoint.