Turkmenistan Blasts Damage Town, Cause Remains Unclear

Posted July 8th, 2011 at 2:10 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Reporters for Western news agencies in Turkmenistan say a series of explosions that shook a town near the capital, Ashgabat, caused heavy damage to residential areas.

The journalists who visited the town of Abadan on Friday reported seeing streets covered in debris and houses and apartment blocks with smashed windows. Authorities had ordered residents to evacuate the previous day when the mysterious blasts began. Some of them later returned and found their homes damaged.

Turkmen security forces prevented residents and reporters from approaching the site of Thursday's explosions, whose cause and impact on the population remained unclear.

The Turkmen government says fireworks exploded in an Abadan warehouse due to hot weather, without causing any casualties.

But exiled Turkmen opposition activists say a military arms depot in the town blew up, killing many people.

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov held an emergency meeting with his aides late Thursday to discuss the situation. His government later promised to help affected residents. Turkmenistan is a former Soviet republic whose leadership is among the world's most secretive.

Abadan houses a gas-fired power plant that supplies electricity to Ashgabat, 20 kilometers away. The Turkmen capital experienced sporadic power cuts on Thursday.