Asia - Pacific

12 dead, dozens injured in Kazakhstan arms depot blast

More than 10 blasts occur at arms depot, people from around site moved to safer places as top officials fly to the site

Riyaz ul Khaliq and Meiramgul Kussainova   | 27.08.2021
 12 dead, dozens injured in Kazakhstan arms depot blast

ANKARA/NUR SULTAN, Kazakhstan 

The death toll from multiple explosions in an arms depot in Kazakhstan has risen to 12, according to official sources on Friday.

A total of 90 people, most of them firefighters and rescue workers, were injured in the explosions, sources said.

More than 10 explosions were heard at the site at around 7.00 p.m. local time (1300GMT) on Thursday, Kazakh Defense Minister Nurlan Baiuzakuly Yermekbayev told reporters.

Investigations into the incident are underway, Yermekbayev said.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev conveyed his condolences to his Kazakh counterpart Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in a phone call.

The incident took place on Thursday evening in the Bayzak district of the southern Zhambyl province that borders Kyrgyzstan, a Defense Ministry official told Anadolu Agency over the phone from Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan.

The deceased included a paramilitary guard, personnel from the Emergency Situations Ministry, a military unit and a military prosecutor’s office, according to Zakon, a local news website.

“People from nearest villages of the blast site have been evacuated to safer places,” the Defense Ministry official said.

Tokayev last night said: “Work is underway to eliminate the consequences of the fire. Rescuers, military personnel, doctors and all involved people are actively working. Unfortunately, the number of victims is growing. But the situation is under control.”

According to KazTag news agency, more than 400 places have been prepared for those evacuated from the site of the incident. Some 32 doctors and 56 medical workers have been mobilized and 66 people were admitted to two different hospitals.

In a statement on Friday, the Defense Ministry said the ammunition from the depot was “partly taken to a warehouse” near Taraz area.

“The dynamics of the fire is typical for the ignition of engineering ammunition. The ongoing fire at an engineering ammunition depot could be caused by the combustion of TNT stored there. Traces in the sky can be caused by fires in signal cartridges stored in a warehouse. After the elimination of the consequences of the fire, part of the engineering ammunition was removed to this warehouse,” the statement said.

*Zehra Nur Duz contributed to the story in Ankara

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