The Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) conducted excavations at the Paphos cemetery on Saturday, as part of the Republic of Cyprus’ program for excavation and identification of remains of people perished during the island’s turbulent past. The excavation is expected to be completed late on Sunday.
Xenophontas Kallis from CMP told CNA that excavations are related to those who perished in the makeshift Pachyammos hospital that was set up in Tylliria region, in the northwestern coast of Cyprus, during the August 1964 aerial bombing of the area by the Turkish air force.
A group of volunteer nurses, consisting of 5 people, was treating on site those wounded in nearby battlefields, he explained.
On August 9, the hospital was hit with napalm bombs by the Turkish air force. As a result, people receiving treatment in the hospital were dismembered and human parts were scattered in the area, Kallis said. Remains belonging to victims were buried in Paphos cemetery, where the place where excavations are now taking place.
At the moment, said Kallis, there are four graves; one grave that has two names on it, belonging to the nursing team, and three individual graves.
Two years ago, excavations were carried out on site the former makeshift Pachyammos hospital and a crater was discovered, along with bones. Identifications showed that some bone fragments belonged to members of the medical staff.
“Now we are conducting excavations in two out of four graves to see what is inside”, he went on.
He said that after the excavation, bones are transferred to the anthropological laboratory, to be cleaned and examined for any injuries, as well as estimate the age. Samples are then sent to the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics.
“I hope that we will have some results soon, in a month or two,” Kallis concluded.
Presidential Commissioner, Photis Photiou, speaking to CNA, said that the excavation in Pafos “is the continuation of the effort made to complete the excavations” begun at Pachyammos.
As he said, these individuals are not on the list of missing persons, but “are among those fallen in the ’63-’64 and ’74 periods, whose relatives are still looking for answers.”
The program of the Republic of Cyprus has almost been completed and in the next 1 or 2 months these excavations will be completed as well, Photiou concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. Since then, the fate of hundreds of people remains unknown.
The Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning to their relatives the remains of 492 Turkish Cypriots and 1,510 Greek Cypriots, who went missing during the inter-communal fighting of 1963-1964 and in 1974.