Turkmenistan: Panic, Looting Reported after Explosion in Abadan
Following an explosion in the Turkmen city of Abadan, there are reports of panic in the streets and massive looting, says chrono-tm.org, an independent émigré news site.
A reader of chrono-tm.org has sent in a copy of the Google Maps satellite image of the area, with a large arms depot, the likely site of the explosion, outlined in red on the map (see above photo with translation). Abadan (formerly known as Bezmein) is about 18 kilometers from the capital of Ashgabat.
Numerous people are evacuating the area and there are unofficial reports of casualties, but no figures have been provided yet.
As of 2:00 am July 8 local time, the authorities have still not provided television or radio news of the disaster, and only posted a brief notice on the government's official Internet site at midnight after an emergency government meeting:
Today an emergency joint session of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan and the State Security Council of Turkmenistan was held chaired by President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov at which was reviewed the emergency related to the ignition of pyrotechnical goods, intended for fireworks, stored at special warehouses on the outskirts of the city of Abadam. The fire started as a result of the particularly hot weather in recent days.
The heads of the military and law-enforcement agencies reported to the head of state about the emergency measures taken to eliminate the consequences of the incident.
There are no victims or particular wreckages. The population is being provided the necessary medical and other forms of assistance. Some of the population which lives immediately adjacent to the location of the incident have been evacuated to a safe place.
Witnesses told chrono-tm.org they heard the first explosions at 4:40 pm today, and reported that some people had died or been wounded, and that buildings were damaged and glass windows were broken.
The authorities shut off telephone connections immediately, and within 30 minutes, closed down the Internet for the entire country, witnesses said. Yet the government web site could be accessed this evening. Gas, water, and electricity services have also reportedly been suspended.
Residents of Ashgabat report that ambulances have been streaming to the disaster site. Officials have set up a first aid station in a stadium in Abadan, and are also providing water there and coordinating evacuation, says chrono-tm.org.