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Blasts at Kazakh munitions depot kill 12, wound 98

A series of explosions caused by fire at a Kazakh munitions storage depot killed 12 servicemen and firefighters and wounded 98, authorities in the central Asian nation said on Friday.

It is unclear what caused Thursday’s fire at the military base in the southern province of Zhambyl where engineering explosives were stored, Defence Minister Nurlan Yermekbayev told a briefing.

The soldiers and firefighters died while trying to put out the fire which triggered 10 blasts, he added, saying the stored explosives had come from a facility in the town of Arys after a similar incident there in 2019 which killed four people.

Yermekbayev ordered officials to speed up the construction of two new munitions depots that would be better equipped and located far away from any residential areas.

Yermekbayev’s spokesman said the minister was ready to resign after dealing with the consequences of the blast. The final decision will be in the hands of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, he said.

Authorities evacuated hundreds of people from the nearby area and closed the main road linking the province to the biggest city of Almaty.

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