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Defence minister pays tribute to those who died at Mari

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Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides at the church service (PIO)

Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides on Sunday attended a religious memorial service for the 13 men killed at the Evangelos Florakis naval base in Mari on July 11, 2011.

Individual memorial services for each of those killed were also taking place on Sunday in their various hometowns, while the official memorial to those who died will take place on Monday at the base, and will be addressed by President Nicos Anastasiades.

Seven sailors and six firemen were killed fighting the inferno caused after the explosion of a consignment of munitions confiscated in 2009 from a Cyprus-flagged ship en route to Syria and haphazardly stored outside in 98 containers at the base in Mari for more than two years despite warnings that they posed a danger.
In his address at the church service in Limassol, Petrides said the 13 men who dies had bravely confronted immense danger without turning their backs on duty even when the situation worsened and the fire was impossible to control.

He paid tribute both to the senior officers who led the charge on the day of the disaster, and also the young sailors, all of whom died with courage.

“The tragic explosion of July 11, 2011, will haunt us for the mistakes, omissions, irresponsibility and inadequacy of state mechanisms,” he said.

“There is no doubt that the criminal negligence of those who handled the situation with the containers of death, led to the tragic death of 13 of our fellow human beings, who, at the risk of their personal lives, ran to the storage area to prevent the disaster.”

The sacrifices made at Mari, were a wake-up call to accountability,” the minister said.

“The memory of these 13 men will be eternally remembered to remind all of us of the criminal mistakes and omissions of the state that led to this unspeakable tragedy.”

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