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Striking Kazakh Oil Workers: Company Responsible For Deadly Incident

Zhanaozen Fire
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WATCH: The aftermath of a fire at an oil well near the Kazakh town of Zhanaozen

ZHANAOZEN, Kazakhstan -- Striking oil workers in western Kazakhstan say their company is ultimately responsible for a fire on July 30 that killed one worker and injured two others, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The deadly fire occurred at an oil well near the town of Zhanaozen in the Manghystau region.

Daulet Qosanov, who said he is the chairman of the striking oil workers' trade unions, told RFE/RL on August 1 that Doqtyrbai Sarsenbaev, 37, who died in the accident, was not supposed to be at work when the fire broke out.

Qosanov said Sarsenbaev began work at 7:30 a.m. and was to leave work at 7:00 p.m, hours before the accident occurred. But he said Sarsenbaev stayed at work for another shift, even though he had already worked nearly 12 hours.

According to Qosanov, the management of the Zhondeu Company is responsible for Sarsenbaev's death because it makes employees work more than one shift without a rest because of the massive strike in the region.

Zhondeu Director Yqylas Shangereev told RFE/RL that his company's management has nothing to do with the tragic situation. He said the families of the deceased worker and his injured colleagues are being given moral and material assistance. Shangereev added that an investigation into the accident has been launched.

Meanwhile, Kazakhstan's Emergency Situations Ministry announced today that the fire was caused by the overheating of a lifting mechanism's exhaust pipe.

Read more in Kazakh here