President Nicos Anastasiades on Sunday said the state will continue to be by the side of the families of the 13 men who died ten years ago today in the explosion at the Evangelos Florakis naval base in Mari.

Addressing the annual memorial of the seven sailors and six firemen who were killed in the blast of July 11, 2011, at the naval base, Anastasiades said these men “defended public interest with self-sacrifice and a high sense of responsibility.” The ceremony took place at the chapel built near the explosion site.

Anastasiades said that these 13 heroes defended the honour of the security and National Guard forces but also the social cohesion of the state.

Military officers Andreas Ioannides, Lambros Lambrou, Kleanthis Kleanthous, Michalis Heracleous, Miltiades Christophorou, Christakis Christophorou and Andreas Charalambous were killed by the blast as well as firefighters Andreas Papadopoulos, Vasilis Krokos, Spyros Tantis, Panayiotis Theophilou, Giorgos Yiakoumi and Adamos Adamou. More than 60 people were injured.

Their sacrifice, Anastasiades said, is making the state consider its own debt to them and its responsibility to the people to “never allow similar tragedies, through the decisions we make.” He also referred to the state’s obligation to shield all those who work in similar positions in order to be able to carry out their mission under conditions of complete security.

Their sacrifice, he added, dictates that the state is more diligent and wiser in crisis management.

Addressing the families of the 13 men, he said that no ceremony or tribute can replace them, “but I do want to reassure you that the state will continue to be by your side.”

After the church service, wreaths were laid at the monument honouring the 13 heroes.

The explosion was caused by munitions confiscated in 2009 from a Cyprus-flagged ship en route to Syria and haphazardly stored in 98 containers at the Evangelos Florakis naval base in Mari for more than two years. As a result of the explosion and the shock wave that followed, the nearby Vassiliko power station suffered extensive damage that led to power cuts for a period of time after the blast.