Smoke is seen in front of a damaged building by the power station in Mari, Cyprus, on July 11, after huge explosions from seized munitions rocked the nearby naval base. (Andreas Lazarou/AFP/Getty Images)

The dead included five firefighters, four members of the National Guard and two sailors.

The explosion occurred in the early hours of the morning after a brush fire detonated gunpowder stored in containers at the base. The gunpowder had been confiscated in 2009 from a ship that had been heading from Iran to Syria.

The concussion wave from the blast wrecked houses in nearby villages and devastated the adjacent power station, leading to electricity outages across large areas of Cyprus. Authorities asked the public to limit their electricity consumption, which had gone up drastically during a three-day heatwave in the island nation.

When Cyprus President Dimitris Christofias visited the site of the blast he said:

“Today, we mark a dark day in July for the Cypriot nation and its people. We are shocked by this event. ... I want to express my condolences and support to the families of the victims who lost their lives carrying out their duties dutifully. Damages can be repaired, but lives cannot return.”

The state news agency said the death toll might rise as a number of people still were missing.