Shrapnel, high security in Turkmen town after blasts

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 07, 2011 9:18 PM
Shrapnel, high security in Turkmen town after blasts

By Marat Gurt

ABADAN, Turkmenistan (Reuters) - Army and police units patrolled Abadan on Friday after several explosions were heard in the town close to the Turkmen capital.

Residents of Ashgabat, capital of the gas-rich, secretive Central Asian state, reported hearing several loud blasts coming from nearby Abadan at about 4 pm (7 p.m. EDT) on Thursday and said electricity supplies were intermittent.

The authorities said fireworks had detonated at a storage facility in Abadan due to hot weather. It said there were no casualties or serious destruction.

The website of Turkmenistan's exiled opposition,, said army ammunition depots were on fire about 20 km (12 miles) outside Ashgabat.

A Reuters correspondent said roads in Abadan, which has a power station serving the capital, were strewn with metal shards and the air was thick with acrid smoke. The streets looked deserted. Despite a heavy police and army presence, the town was not cordoned off and cars could enter freely, although police hurried onlookers away.

The opposition website said: "There is large-scale destruction and victims" as a result of the blasts. The report was accompanied by a picture of a huge plume of smoke rising over the area.

The Turkmen government said in a statement: "The local population is being given all necessary kinds of medical, social and other types of assistance," adding a government meeting on the accident had been chaired by the country's strongman President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

(Reporting by Marat Gurt; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Janet Lawrence)