'Superhuman effort' to reopen Cyprus banks: central bank

Cypriot authorities are making a "superhuman effort" to reopen banks after a nearly two-week closure imposed while the island sought a eurozone bailout, the central bank chief governor said Tuesday.

"A superhuman effort is being made for the banks to open on Thursday," Panicos Demetriades told a press conference at the central bank, where hundreds of angry bank workers protested earlier.

All banks in Cyprus have been closed since March 16.

The central bank had announced on Monday that all except the country's two biggest lenders, Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank, would reopen on Tuesday. It changed course hours later and said they would all be shut until Thursday.

Demetriades also confirmed that a so-called haircut or levy on deposits over 100,000 euros ($130,000) at the stricken Bank of Cyprus and Laiki Bank would be "around 40 percent."

"We are working on the amount," he said.

Finance Minister Michalis Sarris earlier gave a similar figure, which up from the 30 percent that was first cited after Cyprus struck the deal with the European Union and International Monetary Fund on Monday.

Sarris, who was also at the news conference, defended the unpopular 10-billion-euro bailout saying that, without it, a bankrupt Cyprus would have been forced out of the 17-nation euro currency.

"The exit of Cyprus from the eurozone would be the disastrous economically and politically, a total catastrophe. We don't even want to contemplate it," Sarris said.