Warehouse blast near Tashkent airport kills one, injures over 160

Published September 28, 2023
Specialists work to extinguish fire following an explosion at a warehouse near an airport in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in this picture released September 28, 2023. — Reuters
Specialists work to extinguish fire following an explosion at a warehouse near an airport in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in this picture released September 28, 2023. — Reuters

An overnight explosion at a warehouse near the airport in Uzbekistan’s capital, Tashkent, killed one person and injured more than a hundred, authorities in the Central Asian country said on Thursday.

“A teenager born in 2006 died,” the Uzbek health ministry said on Telegram, adding that a further 162 had been injured.

The emergency situations ministry said powerful lightning had caused “an explosion, then a fire, which is still burning” in a warehouse in the airport zone.

Of those hurt in the accident, 138 sustained minor injuries and a further 24 were still in hospital in a more serious condition, the health ministry said.

Videos circulating on social media showed a column of flames and smoke rising into the night sky.

The blast blew out the windows of several houses in the surrounding area and damaged their interiors.

Explosions continued to ring out in the hours after the blaze broke out as emergency crews tackled the fire and ambulance staff worked to evacuate those injured, an AFP journalist at the scene witnessed.

“I woke up at night. I thought it was an earthquake,” said Moustafo Kutepov, a 72-year-old retiree who lives nearby and whose house was affected.

“Then I saw the fire. My son was injured in the leg,” he told AFP.

“I am asking the authorities to compensate for the damage as winter approaches, as I do not have the means to repair it on my own,” he added.

The country’s biggest airport is functioning normally, according to the Uzbek national news agency UzA.

Uzbekistan is the most populous of the Central Asian former Soviet republics. Fires attributed to outdated equipment and non-compliance with safety standards are a regular occurrence.

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