On August 26th, Kazakhstan has evacuated settlements located next to a military facility in its southern Jambyl province after it was rocked by a series of powerful blasts that left at least 5 dead and more than 60 injured.
Four military personnel and one firefighter died while battling the blaze, which triggered a series of 10 blasts.
The blasts followed a fire at the facility, where some engineering-purpose explosives were stored, deputy defense minister Ruslan Shpekbayev said.
“As a result of the explosions, no ammunition remains and fragments were blown away,” the ministry added.
Separately, traffic and railway authorities said they were closing off a road and a railway passing through the area.
"An explosion of unknown objects occurred in one of the warehouses located on the territory of a military unit in the Zhambyl region" – Press service of the Ministry of Defense of Kazakhstan. pic.twitter.com/EpOS7jBCMm
— The RAGEX (@theragex) August 26, 2021
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said in a series of tweets that at least 30 of the wounded were military servicemen or emergency workers and the incident was being investigated.
Residents of four villages, including one of 250 people less than a kilometer from the site of the blast, were being evacuated, a statement from the defense ministry said.
Videos posted online showed that the explosion took place not far from a major road connecting provincial centre Taraz to Almaty, the country’s business hub and biggest city.
The Ministry of Defense did not rule out arson. It was unclear what caused the fire, Defense Minister Nurlan Ermekbaev told a press briefing on August 27th.
Separately, Ermekbayev said that he had tendered his resignation after the accident, but that any final decision on his future in the post would be made by the country’s leadership, a reference to President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev.
Shpekbayev, Assistant Minister of Defense of Kazakhstan, was also sent to the region to investigate the cause of the fire.
In 2019, an explosion at an ammunition depot near the town of Arys in the neighbouring region of Turkestan killed two people and injured many others, also prompting the evacuation of tens of thousands.
On the morning of August 27th, fire brigades are in action as they continue their efforts to reduce the fire. Meanwhile, the administration is on its toes to discover the prime reason for the incident. The defense ministry also sent a commission led by Deputy Defense Minister Ruslan Shpekbaev to take note of the scene. No casualties or injuries have been reported until now.
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