Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan: The death toll from explosions at an arms depot in southern Kazakhstan climbed to 13, authorities in the ex-Soviet country said Saturday, adding that three people were still missing.
The blasts occurred at a defence ministry ammunitions depot in the southern Jambyl region, leaving dozens injured and forcing the evacuation of more than 1,000 people from nearby villages.
The Central Asian State Emergency Affairs Ministry said on Saturday that the 13th body was found at the scene, but the identity has not been confirmed.
“The search for three missing (persons) continues,” the ministry said in a statement.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced that Sunday would be a day of national mourning for the military personnel and rescuers who died at the scene of the disaster.
Praising their “heroism,” Tokayev wrote on Twitter Saturday that the victims would “always remain in the memory of the people”.
on Friday, he acknowledged “systemic problems” with Kazakhstan’s ammunitions storage.
Regular incidents at Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era military depots have proven a headache for the government.
Another depot near the southern town of Arys has seen three lethal explosions in the last decade.
The Ministry of Defense stated that some of the ammunition stored in the Soviet-era warehouse in Jabir had been moved from the facility in Aris, where there had been calls for the resettlement of the town’s entire population of 45,000.
A video shared online shows a cloud of smoke emerging from the fire before the violent explosion ejected the flames.
Another photo shows that as the fire rages, fragments fly in the sky in a long arc.
The Ministry of National Defense stated that the fire broke out and “spread quickly to storage facilities storing engineered ammunition,” causing multiple explosions.