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Cyprus

Explosion building ‘had been converted unlawfully’

makedonitissa

The building which exploded in the Nicosia suburb of Engomi on Tuesday had not obtained the requisite permission to be converted into its current form, Engomi Mayor Zacharias Kyriakou said on Friday.

Speaking to CyBC, he said no application had been filed to convert the ground floor of the building into six studio apartments.

Therefore, the conversions which were made had not acquired planning permission, nor had they received the relevant permit from the Engomi Municipality,” he said.

The initial approval for the building had been given in 1976, before permission was granted in 1985 and 1988 for additional floors to be added.

On Thursday, police spokesman Christos Andreou confirmed that the explosion had been caused by a gas leak.

He said tests carried out by the police confirmed the explosion’s cause, but that due to the destruction caused, the source of the gas leak and the conditions under which it occurred have not yet been determined.

In addition, the girl who was most seriously injured, an 18-year-old from Greece who lived in the building, reported that there was a “strong smell of gas” shortly before the explosion, with Politis saying a gas bottle on the ground floor may have been the cause of the explosion.

She is still being treated at the Nicosia general hospital for severe burns. She is currently unable to give an official statement to the police as they are not allowed to visit her in hospital due to the risk of infection.

The police had added that at first glance, the possibility of malicious criminal intent to cause an explosion had been ruled out.

Andreou said that police are continuing their investigation to determine whether possible “criminal offences” took place in terms of the building’s construction, and that a private company has been called in to ensure gas is not leaking through the copper gas supply pipes in the building.

The second person who had been reported as hospitalised was not present in the building when the explosion occurred but suffered symptoms of shock when seeing the damage caused.

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