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Blast Victims Decry Slow Pace Of Reconstruction In Turkmen City

A school damaged in the July ammunition depot in Abadan in July

A school damaged in the July ammunition depot in Abadan in July

ABADAN, Turkmenistan -- Residents of a Turkmen city devastated last year when an ammunition depot blew up have expressed frustration over the lack of reconstruction there, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reports.

After initially rejecting reports of the fiery blasts, the Turkmen government pledged to repair all the damage done in July during the hours of explosions in Abadan -- located some 20 kilometers outside the capital, Ashgabat -- and make the city of some 50,000 people better than before.

Some residents told an RFE/RL correspondent in Abadan, under condition of anonymity, about the reconstruction efforts in the city nearly six months after the July 7 tragedy.

One person said the "government's effort to reconstruct the city seems limited to construction of only the exterior [of buildings], replacing broken windows and reconstructing buildings that were completely destroyed. That is no more than a cosmetic effort."

Another Abadan inhabitant affected by the blast indicated that his family had not received any help from the government.

"We have rebuilt damaged parts of our family compounds using our own resources, [but] we weren't really compensated for our losses," the man said.

Several other people said they were dissatisfied with the pace of reconstruction.

The Turkmen government initially denied there were any casualties during the many hours in which ammunition was raining down on Abadan even many kilometers from the depot.

But after opposition groups in exile posted videos and photos taken by mobile phones and claimed that hundreds of people had been killed or injured, the Turkmen government reported that at least 15 people died.

The official cause of the fire remains "hot weather." The government also originally said the fire occurred at a fireworks factory and only several days later admitted it was bullets and bombs exploding at the military's ammunition depot.

In an attempt to control information about the incident, people in Abadan were told by police and other officials not to discuss the incident with anyone.

Read more in Turkmen and see before-and-after photos of Abadan here