July 21, 2019
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Kazakh city of 45,000 evacuated following massive explosions

Nur-Sultan, Jun 25 (efe-epa).- Some 42,000 people were evacuated after a fire sparked a series of massive explosions at a military arsenal in the southern Kazakh city of Arys the previous day, Kazakh authorities said Tuesday.

Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry said emergency teams evacuated 2,815 people and another 39,000 left Arys on their own.

At least two people were killed and 165 were injured in the blasts in Arys, some 1,500 km (930 miles)south of the capital Nur-Sultan.

"Unfortunately there have been fatalities, a civilian and a soldier," Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin told a government inquiry into the incident on Tuesday.

Health Minister Yelzhan Birtanov said 165 people received medical attention and 89 of those had to be hospitalized.

A total of 15 patients are in intensive care, he said.

Attempts to put out the fires in Arys, home to some 45,000 people, have been suspended because explosions were still occurring sporadically, the Interior Ministry said.

"I think that in the course of the day together with the Defense Ministry we will resume work," Interior Minister Yerlan Turgumbayev said.

Deputy Interior Minister Yuri Ilyin told a press conference that all the people who were in the military installation at the time of the explosions were safely evacuated.

"The people who were in the shelters were evacuated, at this time we do not have information that someone, civil or military, remains there," the senior official added.

The military unit in Arys covers an area of 27 square kilometers (10.42 square miles) and is home to 89 ammunition depots.

The blasts smashed out about 8,000 windows and caused structual damage to about 83 percent of the city's homes, the Kazakh government said.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev traveled to area on Tuesday and visited several of the hospitalized victims.

Tokayev, who last month won presidential elections, pledged to provide all the resources necessary to normalize the situation in Arys.

"I express my gratitude to all Kazakhstani volunteers for their great and useful efforts for the sake of the well-being of Arys residents. They are in a really difficult situation at the moment," Tokayev tweeted. EFE

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