Five people have died Kazakhstan

Five Dead, 90 Injured In Blasts At Kazakh Military Base

Five people have died and 90 people have been injured in a series of blasts triggered by a fire at a military base in southern Kazakhstan, prompting the country’s defense minister to offer to resign.

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NUR-SULTAN — It was unclear what caused the fire on August 26 at the military facility in the province of Zhambyl where engineering explosives were stored, Defense Minister Nurlan Ermekbaev told a press briefing on August 27.

He said arson or sabotage could not be ruled out.

Four military personnel and one firefighter died while battling the blaze, which triggered a series of 10 blasts, Ermekbaev added, saying the stored explosives had come from a facility in the town of Arys after a similar 2019 event that killed four people.

Separately, Ermekbayev told RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service 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.

Authorities evacuated hundreds of people from three villages located less than a kilometer from the ammunition warehouse to the regional capital, Taraz, and closed the main road linking the province to the Central Asian nation’s largest city, Almaty.

Also closed was a key Central Asian rail network in the area that links Almaty to the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, and the Uzbek town of Termiz, which is a main regional gateway to Afghanistan.

Hundreds of military personnel, police officers, and medics were mobilized to help the rescue efforts.

A video shared on the Telegram messaging app that could not be verified showed a column of smoke billowing from a fire before a powerful explosion sent a ball of flame into the sky.

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In 2019, an explosion at an ammunition warehouse near the town of Arys in the adjacent Turkistan region killed four people and injured dozens of others.

With reporting by Reuters, RFE and AFP

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