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Eyewitness Says Explosion Started Deadly Kazakh Fire

The aftermath of the fire
The aftermath of the fire
ASTANA -- Kazakh officials are investigating a fire in a warehouse in Astana on November 9 that killed at least 14 people, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

It is not clear what caused the fire in the large warehouse, which was used to store vegetables. Initial reports that the warehouse was full of plastic-foam materials were incorrect.

An unidentified worker who survived the blaze told RFE/RL that an enormous explosion caused the fire.

He said four male warehouse workers from the Russian city of Chelyabinsk were killed instantly. The survivor said he was lucky because the strong blast blew him "out of a window," which allowed him to survive.

The fire destroyed 10,000 square meters near Astana's main railway station and the smoke from the
blaze engulfed much of the city.

Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov visited the scene to assess the damage. Kazakh Emergency Situations Minister Vladimir Bozhko is leading a state commission investigating the incident.

President Nursultan Nazarbaev expressed his condolences to the victims' families.