Blasts Hit Turkmenistan Town, Evacuation Ordered

Posted July 7th, 2011 at 6:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Authorities in a town near the capital of Turkmenistan have ordered residents to evacuate after a series of explosions shook the area.

There were conflicting reports of casualties and the location of the blasts in Abadan, about 20 kilometers west of the capital, Ashgabat.

Authorities say the explosions took place at a fireworks warehouse and blamed them on extremely hot weather in the past few days. They did not immediately report any casualties or damage. But news reports from the area say the explosion took place in an arms depot, and witnesses report many people were killed in the initial explosion, which sent a cloud of smoke about the town.

President Gurbunguly Berdymukhamedov convened an emergency session of top security officials late Thursday to discuss the situation.

Turkmenistan became an independent state in 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union. The Abadan area is believed to have military storage facilities from the Soviet era.