Huge explosion at Kazakh military base kills nine: Hundreds of people are evacuated after munitions store blows up
- Nine people have been killed after huge explosions shook Kazakh military base
- Emergency services and military staff were among those killed by the blasts
- Nearby villages evacuated with road and rail links being closed off
- Video footage shows huge fireball and debris and missiles flying through the air
Nine people have died following explosions at an arms depot in southern Kazakhstan with four others feared dead, the Central Asian country’s emergencies ministry has said.
The ministry’s statement said emergency services workers and military staff were among victims of the blasts in the southern region of Jambyl yesterday – and it added that four people were missing.
Nearby villages were evacuated by authorities while emergency services attended to the wounded, and rail links to the city of Almaty were closed.
A video shared on the Telegram messaging app showed a column of smoke billowing from a fire before a powerful explosion sent flames shooting out.
Nine people have died following massive explosions at an arms depot in southern Kazakhstan and four others are feared dead, the Central Asian country’s emergencies ministry has said
Another clip showed debris and army missiles ignited by inferno flying through the sky in long arcs as the fire raged.
The defence ministry said that a fire had broken out at the ammunitions depot and ‘quickly spread to storage facilities where engineering ammunition is stored.’
Several explosions followed, the defence ministry said.
‘The explosions stopped over time, but the fire continues,’ the statement added.
Regular incidents at Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era military depots have proved a headache for the government in recent years, with another depot near the southern town of Arys seeing three lethal explosions take place in the last decade.
A video clip showed debris and army missiles ignited by inferno flying through the sky in long arcs as the fire raged
The defence ministry said that a fire had broken out at the ammunitions depot and ‘quickly spread to storage facilities where engineering ammunition is stored’
The defence ministry noted that some of the munitions stored at the Soviet-era depot in Jambyl had been transferred from the facility in Arys, where there have been calls to resettle the town’s entire population of 45,000.
The emergencies ministry said that the scattering radius of the fragments was up to 1.25 miles.
‘According to preliminary data, more than 500 tonnes of trinitrotoluene (TNT) were stored in the warehouse,’ the ministry said.
Kazakhstan is close to Kyrgyzstan, which shares frontiers with neighbouring states to Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
All the ex-Soviet republics in the region are deeply concerned at the possible spread of the Taliban and Islamic terrorism to their countries with the collapse of the Western-backed government in Afghanistan.
A huge pillar of smoke could be seen rising high into the sky from the site of the explosions
And Kazakh defence minister Nurlan Yermekbayev said a fire which ignited the explosion may have been ‘sabotage’ without giving more details.
‘This maybe a violation of safety requirements, spontaneous combustion, or a chemical reaction.
‘Deliberate arson or sabotage is not excluded.’
The defence ministry said that two of the men who died were part of a fire brigade at the base who were attempting to put out the blaze, while a third was guarding the depot at the time of the explosions.
Yermekbayev said Friday that he would leave his post over the incident if President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev accepted his resignation.
Kazakh defence minister Nurlan Yermekbayev (pictured) said a fire which ignited the explosion may have been ‘sabotage’ without giving more details – and he also offered his resignation
The emergencies ministry said that the scattering radius of debris fragments was up to 1.25 miles
A government commission has been set up to establish the cause of the fire, while Yermekbayev said arson was being considered as a potential trigger for the blaze
The Jambyl regional government said that of more than 80 who received treatment for injuries, 28 remained in hospital with six in serious condition, but ‘their lives are not in danger’.
On Thursday, President Tokayev had said on Twitter that the injured were soldiers and emergency services workers.
Among those killed by the blasts, were Sergeant Marat Meshinbay and Corporal Ruslan Zhanbolatov, both 40, who were first responders, who suffered ‘injuries incompatible with life.’
Colonel Armen Kapezov, a military prosecutor, died in the explosion, and military guard Orazbek Dalibayev, 52, was also killed.
Local authorities said more than 80 children were among those evacuated from nearby villages following the incident.
Around 1,200 people were taken to schools in Taraz, a city of over 300,000 people, which is around 19 miles from the facility.
A government commission has been set up to establish the cause of the fire, while Yermekbayev said arson was being considered as a potential trigger for the blaze.
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