Pipes bursting, toilets collapsing, random power cuts and headaches: paranormal phenomena, or is there a perfectly plausible scientific explanation?

For five years, the tenants of a semi-detached house in Strovolos, Nicosia, were experiencing all the above weird happenings.

The family living there must have changed their toilet seat and plumbing 40 times. The pipes would crack open, flooding the floor. Even a 100-year-old olive tree outside the house wilted and died.

Then one day, out of the blue, the episodes stopped.

Panicos Kafkalias, the owner of the house, says he had brought in all kinds of experts to solve the mystery: geologists, civil and mechanical engineers.

The geologist attributed the problem to possible gas leakage from the soil. Others suggested the foundations were filled with water, warning that the house might collapse any moment. All the opinions were speculative.

Frustrated, Kafkalias called in an expert on electromagnetism. After conducting measurements, the expert found excessively high levels of electromagnetic fields. This aroused their suspicions, and their attention turned to a mobile antenna mast installed on a high-rise building overlooking the house.

Kafkalias decided to cross-reference these findings, by calling in the government Electromechanical Services. Their results, however, were different to those of the independent expert.

Around mid-July, the suspicious mast was moved, and all the strange phenomena ceased.

"Everything's normal now," says Kafkalias. "We finally have peace of mind."

He said his daughter and grandchildren, who also lived there, had been feeling physically sick during the five years.

"My daughter would have frequent headaches, the children too, they were in a bad mood. My son-in-law used to complain of pain in the joints. Once the antenna was relocated... poof! No more problems."

The neighbours also suffered from similar physical symptoms, although only Kafkalias' house had infrastructure problems.

Hot on the trail of the antenna mast, Kafkalias made inquiries and discovered that no permit had been secured for the antenna from Town Planning. An application for a permit had been made, however.

But just as he planned to take the matter up with authorities, the offending mast was moved.

"I think they must have got wind of this antenna business, and quietly took it somewhere else."

He says the mast now straddles the top of another building, in the same neighborhood.

"I haven't heard whether it's causing any trouble to the people who now live next to it," says Kafkalias. "But I'm going to find out."

The consensus of the scientific community is that radiation from mobile phone base station antennas is too low to produce health hazards, as long as people are kept away from direct access to the antennas.

Activists remain unconvinced, saying that the majority of studies are government-sponsored, hinting at vested interests in industry.

And they blame electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile antennae for a number of health problems, including cancer, headaches and short-term memory loss.

Still, where the Strovolos house is concerned, no possibility should be ruled out.

"Case studies in Texas have strongly pointed to geological conditions - such as the presence of limestone and water - as the cause of physical effects on people, including hallucinations," said a spokesperson for Psychognosia, a non-profit organisation in Cyprus that deals in the scientific study of the paranormal.

"Getting to the bottom of such phenomena often involves a process of elimination. But keep in mind that in this case [Strovolos], it could be a number of things happening at the same time," the source told the Mail.

Kafkalias, who himself has never hinted at anything metaphysical, agrees:

"OK, the headaches maybe, but what about the pipes bursting? Was it all because of the antenna? We just can't figure it out."