12/07/2011 -- Several hundred marchers have forced their way into the grounds of the Cypriot presidential palace in Nicosia, during a protest over a fatal blast at a naval base that killed 12[military, including 2 commanders, and firemen].
Protesters were stopped by riot police at an inner gate about 100 meters from the palace. Minor scuffles broke out between a few stone-throwing youths and police who fired tear gas.
It was unclear whether President Dimitris Christofias was in the building.
The invasion followed a peaceful march late Tuesday by some 10,000 people shouting slogans and carrying placards reading "Negligence is criminal."
Monday's massive explosion of seized gunpowder wrecked a key power plant and forced the resignations of the defense minister and top military chief. Authorities have ruled out sabotage.
Evangelos Florakis naval base in Mari, Cyprus, Monday July 11, 2011. A huge explosion tore through a Cypriot National Guard naval base causing widespread damage, the Defense Ministry said. At least 10 people were feared dead. A bush fire ignited gunpowder stored in containers that Cypriot authorities confiscated in 2009 from a ship sailing off its coast. The ship, the Cypriot-flagged Monchegorsk, had been suspected of heading from Iran to Syria, with gunpowder destined for Gaza. It was seized in February 2009.
TWELVE dead and 62 injured – two seriously – the island’s main power station destroyed and significant damage to private properties, were the result of what appears to be criminal negligence on behalf of officials who left containers full of munitions exposed to the elements for more than two years.
The huge explosion at the Evangelos Florakis naval base at Mari in the early hours Monday killed the navy chief and the base commander along with four other sailors and six fire-fighters, who had been battling a blaze around 98 containers full of munitions ‘stored’ by being stacked together and exposed to the elements.
Making things worse, the munitions were stacked near the island’s main power station, which yesterday seemed to be all but destroyed, sparking a chain reaction that is expected to deal a severe blow to the island’s already ailing economy. The immediate effects were rolling power and water cuts islandwide.
Around 150 people in the village of Mari and the surrounding area have been left in need of shelter for the next few days at least.