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13 Sep 2019
Blasts rock ammunition depot near Kyrenia, 12 injured

Blasts rock ammunition depot near Kyrenia, 12 injured

Blasts rocked an ammunition depot on Thursday after a fire broke out at a military zone east of Kyrenia, with shattered glass injuring twelve people.

The Turkish defence ministry said the fire had been brought under control and that the cause of the initial blast, which occurred at around 1:30am, was not immediately clear. It said an investigative team had begun its work.

Explosions at the military zone in Ayios Epiktitos (Catalköy) continued until 5am.

A safety zone was delineated around the broader area, with police warning people to keep away. Access to Kyrenia from the east was diverted through mountain roads.

“Thankfully there were no victims,” Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said, “though there are some injured from shattered glass.”

An initial announcement by the Turkish Cypriot ‘Health Minister’ Ali Pilli said that two people were slightly injured, though the number later rose to 12, with nine being discharged after receiving first aid and three remaining in hospital for further treatment.

The union of Turkish Cypriot doctors warned that people should refrain from touching any fragments scattered across the area as a result of the blasts, as they may carry chemicals or other harmful substances. Masks were also advised, particularly for those with respiratory problems.

The Acapulco Hotel, situated close to the incident, was evacuated. Several homes were also pre-emptively evacuated. Some homes also saw power cuts as a result of the incident.

According to Turkish Cypriot media, panic spread among the guests of the Acapulco Hotel, who gathered on the beach in front of the hotel upon hearing the blasts. Medics were called to the scene as some guests reported feeling unwell from the smell of burnt gunpowder.

Akinci, along with ‘Prime Minister’ Ersin Tatar and ‘Foreign Minister’ Kudret Ozersay visited the area, reassuring the guests of the hotel that all necessary measures had been taken and that there was no longer risk in the area.

In a written statement, Tatar said that a crisis management centre had been set up in the area by Turkish Cypriot soldiers, civil defence members and the forestry department.

The cause of the incident will be thoroughly investigated, Tatar said, noting that the greatest relief is that no lives were lost and no serious injuries were recorded.

The flames that followed the first blast were visible from the shores of the Turkish cities of Antalya and Alanya, with witnesses uploading photos on social media, Turkish Cypriot media reported.

CNN Turk broadcast a video that showed large blasts and plumes of smoke rising into the night sky over the area.

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