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Blast rips through Cyprus base, 8 killed

NICOSIA (Reuters) - A massive explosion ripped through a military base in southern Cyprus, witnesses said on Monday, with the official news agency reporting at least eight people dead.

Police and army officials were not in a position to immediately confirm the report, and information was scant from the scene of the blast at the Evangelos Florakis navy base.

"There are a number of dead which we cannot confirm yet," a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense said.

It was unclear what triggered the explosion, which news reports said was in a munitions dump.

The military base had munitions in storage which Cyprus had confiscated from the Monchegorsk, a vessel sailing from Iran to Syria in 2009.

The intensity of the blast caused extensive damage to a neighboring community, and in a popular resort 3 km from the site windows and doors of beachside restaurants were blown out.

"The place looks like it was hit by a massive bomb," a Reuters witness said.

(Writing by Michele Kambas; Editing by Janet Lawrence)