The Government has declared three days of mourning for the deadly explosion at the Evangelos Florakis Naval Base in Mari, expressing sorrow and condolences to the families of the victims. Speaking after an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers, Government Spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said the dead from the tragedy have reached twelve and the wounded 62, including two seriously injured. Furthermore, President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias has accepted the resignations of Minister of Defence Costas Papacostas and National Guard Chief of Staff Petros Tsalikides. The Government has called on the people to cooperate in order to overcome the difficulties arising from the reduced supply of energy and water. Stephanou said the cabinet decided to call in experts from abroad to assist investigations into the tragedy. Replying to questions, Stephanou said a meeting had taken place last week regarding the explosives at the Naval Base and that decisions had been taken to protect the material, which had been confiscated in 2009 by the Republic of Cyprus from an Iranian ship in Cyprus` waters, destined for Syria. Stephanou said the Republic of Cyprus had acted according to the provisions of a UN resolution, in communication with the UN, and that the safekeeping of the explosives had been assigned to the National Guard. “From the powerful explosion there were victims and huge destruction. There are twelve dead and 62 injured. Fifty wounded were given first aid and dismissed. Among the other twelve in hospital, two are very serious,” he said. Stephanou said that the Minister of Defence and the National Guard Chief of Staff, assuming the responsibility, had resigned and would remain at their posts until replaced. The state services have been mobilised to tackle the situation, record and restore the damage, and take further action. The Council of Ministers was also briefed on the situation regarding the power station at Vassiliko and decided on measures to address the demand in electricity. “The Government calls on all the people to cooperation to tackle all these difficulties,” he said. He also expressed sorrow and condolences to the families of the victims, adding that the Government has declared three days of mourning, from Monday till Wednesday. During this time, all flags on state buildings are flying half mast, and all public events are postponed. The funerals of the victims will be held at state expense. Asked why the explosives had remained there since 2009, Stephanou said that already the area is being examined by the Police with the cooperation of the National Guard, and experts have been summoned from abroad. “We are certain that a full and detailed investigation of all issues arising regarding the safekeeping of the material and how we reached this tragedy will be carried out,” he said. Asked if there had been any warnings regarding the dangerousness of the material, Stephanou said that last week a meeting had been held at the Ministry of Defence and that there had been an examination on site the next day, and decisions had been taken regarding the protection of the explosives, which “unfortunately were not implemented due to lack of time.” Regarding the problems in the power and water supply, Stephanou said the Council of Ministers has made a first evaluation of the situation and decisions have been taken. Asked about persons who are still missing since the explosion, Stephanou did not elaborate, noting that these were delicate issues.

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