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Dozens Injured As Massive Blast Hits Military Warehouse In South Kazakhstan

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NURSULTAN Dozens of people have been injured and tens of thousands have been evacuated following a series of massive blasts at an ammunition warehouse in Kazakhstan’s southern town of Arys, Kazakh authorities said.

Defense Ministry’s press service said that a fire that erupted in the warehouse early in the morning on June 24 causing a massive explosion. The cause of the fire was not clear.

The region’s governor, Omirzaq Shokeev, announced a state of emergency in the region and ordered the immediate evacuation of Arys’ 45,000 residents.

Deputy Defense Minister Timur Dandibaev said earlier that firefighters are trying to extinguish a huge fire caused by the blast in the warehouse in the Turkistan region.

Twentyfive people, including five children, were being treated at a hospital in the regional capital, Shymkent, hospital officials told RFE/RL.

Three of the injured were in a serious condition, the hospital’s chief said.

President QasymZhomart Toqaev tweeted that he has ordered the country’s Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry, and Turkistan regional authorities to ensure the safety of the local population and investigate the cause of the blast.

Video posted on social media show people leaving the town en masse while explosions are being heard and shells are seen falling on the ground.

A woman from Arys, Zhanat Abilqasymova, told RFE/RL that she and her family members had to leave their house after several shells exploded near their home.

We just managed to take our identification documents and left the town by car, Abilqasymova said.

RFE/RL correspondents in Shymkent report just some 1,000 residents of Arys were taken to the Aqmeshit Mosque in the city, where they were provided with food and water.

Regional officials said 15 evacuation points have been set up in Shymkent and nearby districts.

The explosions at the military warehouse have been powerful enough to have been registered by the nation’s seismic service.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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