PKAP Timing Fortunate Again

In 2006, PKAP was fortunate that our season ended during the last week of June (I left the island on June 26th). On July 12th, conflict between Israel and Hezbollah broke out and it eventually resulted in over 25,000 people evacuating Lebanon and arriving in Cyprus, either as a staging point for travel elsewhere, or as a place to wait out the conflict.

This year, I left Cyprus on July 1st, and on July 11th a large explosion occurred on the island when a wildfire caused munitions (seized in 2009 from a Iranian ship bound for Syria) stored at the Evangelos Florakis military base to explode causing widespread damage, destroying buildings, wounding more than 60 people, and killing 13. [The BBC has some horrific images from the blast.] The base in Mari is located near the seaside town of Zygi, which is a favorite PKAP place to visit to eat a leisurely lunch of calamari and octopus while sitting next to the water. The explosion also destroyed the Vassilikou power station which provides about 50% of the island’s electricity and has resulted in power outages all over the island.

In addition to the damage and power issues, there have been 5 consecutive days of protests aimed primarily at President Demetris Christofias demanding his resignation, along with those of his remaining ministers (Defence Minister Costas Papacostas and National Guard Chief Petros Tsalikides have already resigned). The protest seems to be waning since while over 10,000 people were in attendance on Thursday evening at the Presidential palace, the numbers dropped Friday evening to a little over 1,000 people.

RSM

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