Kazakh town evacuated after deadly munitions depot blast

Published June 25, 2019, 12:17 AM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Agence France-Presse

Kazakh officials evacuated a town in the south of the country Monday as a series of explosions at a nearby munitions depot killed one person and injured more than 30, officials said.


At least 31 people were treated in hospitals in the southern Turkestan region after the blasts at the depot, near the town of Arys, which killed one man, said regional governor Umirzak Shukeyev.

The explosions were caused by “a fire, which led to the explosion of some of the ammunition (at the depot)”, Kazakhstan’s defence ministry said in a statement.

The man who was killed died after “a projectile fell on his car”, Shukeyev told journalists at a televised news conference.

At least two of the injured were in “critical condition”, he added.

Social media users shared videos of people fleeing the area, as huge plumes of smoke rose in the background.

Other videos showed barely conscious victims being rushed into hospital on trolley beds.

Shukeyev said the town had been almost completely evacuated Monday and that explosions at the depot might continue for several days.

But the country’s emergencies committee said that 500 interior ministry troops had been sent to the town to ensure “public order” as rumours of looting spread.

The incident has also interrupted transport in Kazakhstan and the wider region.

Rail authorities in Kazakhstan said that more than a dozen trains were cancelled, including one to Tashkent, the capital of neighbouring Uzbekistan.

Rail authorities in Kyrgyzstan on Monday said that a high-speed train to Moscow that passes through Kazakhstan had been cancelled.