Fatalities have been reported following an accident at a concert in northwestern Uzbekistan over the weekend.
The accident occurred when the railing of a bridge collapsed at a concert in the city of Urgench on August 8, the government said in a statement issued the following day.
The accident was caused by the partial collapse of a railing on a bridge over a lake in the city’s main park, where a crowd had gathered to watch the concert, the Emergency Situations Ministry’s tersely worded statement said.
“As a result, spectators who were on the bridge fell into the lake. There are casualties,” the statement said.
The government statement did not specify the number of deaths or injuries.
An Emergency Situations Ministry official contacted by EurasiaNet.org by telephone on August 10 declined to clarify the number of casualties and said that the government would release further information on the ministry’s website as it became available. The official hung up when asked to identify herself.
An unnamed source in the Emergency Situations Ministry told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that at least 15 people had died and that 17 had been hospitalized following the accident, which occurred at the Youth Lake central park in Urgench, a city of 150,000 people and the provincial capital of the Khorezm province.
RFE/RL also cited an Urgench city hall official as saying that seven people, including five schoolchildren, had drowned in the lake when the bridge collapsed. EurasiaNet.org could not reach city hall for further comment.
A government commission set up to investigate the tragedy is on the spot assisting the families of the deceased and injured and is seeking to establish the cause of the accident, the Emergency Situations Ministry said in its statement.
There is a paucity of information on the tragedy in Uzbekistan’s tightly controlled official media, which has only republished the sole official government statement on the accident.
RFE/RL reported that some local people were blaming shoddy construction techniques for the accident at the park, which re-opened following reconstruction in 2013.
This is the second fatal accident within a month to hit Uzbekistan, where 25 people who were foraging for gold in an abandoned mine near Tashkent died in an explosion on July 13, according to a report by RFE/RL that the government has not confirmed.
Tashkent’s tight-lipped reaction to any tragedy tends to spawn a rash of rumors to fill the gap.
Earlier this month, explosions heard in the eastern city of Andijan set the rumor mill working overtime about an accident at a military garrison. The government later said security forces had been carrying out maneuvers in the area.