UPDATE 1, 2.55 UK time
People in Cyprus have been woken up by a series of huge explosions that took place around 23.30 local time tonight. The blasts were heard in Girne/Kyrenia and Lefkoşa/North Nicosia, as well as in South Cyprus.
A major fire has also broken out near to Taşkent village, located on the southern slopes of Five Finger Mountains, just 19 km from the TRNC capital Lefkoşa.
Initial speculation suggested a plane or helicopter had crashed. Others on social media questioned whether the incident was related to tonight’s heavy Israeli aerial shelling of Iranian defence strongholds in Damascus and Homs, Syria, this evening. Israel and Syria are respectively 472 km and 508 km from the Nicosia.
The fire took hold on land between Güngör and Taşkent villages. A photograph on Instagram shows emergency vehicles attending the fire, while a post on Twitter by Hava Sosyal Medya [Air Social Media] from Turkey shows fragments of what is thought to be a plane or possibly a missile that crashed tonight.
Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk Cumhuriyeti’nde (KKTC) Taşkent bölgesinde patlama meydana geldi. Çevrede endişe yaratan patlamanın sebebi henüz belirlenemezken, olay yerine itfaiye ve güvenlik görevlileri sevk edildi.
Güvenlik kaynaklarından alınan bilgiye göre saat 23.30 sıralarından pic.twitter.com/NXmNE99eDz
— HavaSosyalMedya® ✈ (@HavaSosyalMedya) July 1, 2019
There has been no official word about what was behind the explosions or fire so far, or whether there has been any loss of life. However, Deputy Prime Minister Kudret Özersay has made several posts on his Facebook account.
Kudret Özersay: “Fragments found suggest either an aircraft carrying explosives or a direct explosive (missile)”
In his first, he said that he and Transport Minister Tolga Atakan were en route to where the incident took place. He wrote that from initial information given to him by the TRNC army, tonight’s incident “is not due to an ammunitions explosion, or one of our helicopters or similar or an cargo plane [crashing].”
In a follow-up post written an hour later, the Deputy PM said:
“We just went to the scene near the village of Taşkent and examined fragments found in the area of the explosion with our officials. Preliminary findings indicate that the nature of the explosive object is either an aircraft carrying explosives or a direct explosive (missile). The inscriptions on the parts and other signs will soon help us to understand exactly what this was. There are no casualties or injuries. The fire was taken under control by our fire department.”
This story will continue to be updated as details emerge.