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A powerful explosion in the capital city of Uzbekistan which was reportedly triggered by detonating electric car batteries has killed one person and injured 160 more.
The blast inside a huge customs warehouse close to the Tashkent International Airport could be heard 20 miles away, with nearby buildings destroyed and untold damage caused to the airfield.
A 15-year-old boy was tragically killed after a frame collapsed on his head as a result of the explosion. It is unclear how many people were in the warehouse when it exploded but authorities say 163 people were injured.
Shocking footage shows the impact of the 2.43am explosion as a fireball erupted hundreds of feet high lighting up the night sky of the ex-Soviet republic.
Initial reports suggested the raging inferno had been caused by a plane crash, forcing the authorities to deny this was responsible for the thunderous explosion that shook much of the city.
A powerful explosion rocked Uzbekistan after midnight with reports of a fireball hundreds of feet high lighting up the night sky
A customs warehouse at the airport has exploded according to Uzbek news website Daryo said
A 15-year-old boy reportedly died after a frame collapsed on his head due to the explosion. It is unclear how many people were in the warehouse when it exploded
Dozens of ambulances ferries the wounded to hospitals. Some 24 people had been hospitalised, but faced no threat to their lives, while 138 were treated for injuries, the health ministry said.
At least five children suffered wounds from shattered glass.
The Uzbek Interior Ministry was initially reported as saying ‘lightning struck a warehouse where electric cars and batteries were stored, causing a massive explosion and fire in Tashkent’, said a report.
Later there were doubts that lightning had been a factor in the explosion.
Batteries for electric cars exploded at the airport warehouse, causing the destruction of the building in the shock wave, reported Mash media outlet.
There are suspicions explosives were also present in the Inter Logistics LLC warehouse given the scale of the blast, but this was officially denied.
Sixteen separate fire teams were seeking to extinguish the enormous blaze which covered more than 32,000 square feet.
Footage of the scene in the morning showed several locals inspecting their shattered windows and damaged homes, while smoke could still be seen rising as firefighters battled to control the blaze.
A social media post from Uzbek outlet Daryo said 16 fire and rescue crews were sent to fight the fire at one of the warehouses in the city’s Sergeli district near the airport.
Soot and flaming debris rains over Tashkent following the huge explosion
The remnants of the warehouse are seen burning following the huge blast which rocked the city
Mobile phone footage captured the blaze in Uzbekistan, which reportedly stemmed from an explosion in an airport warehouse
Specialists work to extinguish fire following an explosion at a warehouse near the Tashkent airport in the capital of Uzbekistan
Smoke could still be seen rising into the sky this morning after the thunderous explosion in the night
A man shows damages in his house after the explosion rocked the ex-Soviet state in the early hours
The blast wave was felt by residents of Nurafshan, a town south of Tashkent, some 20 miles from the epicentre of the explosion. Pictured: Firefighters at the scene
The ministry later said it was working to establish full details of the cause of the explosion
The blast wave was felt by residents of Nurafshan, a town south of Tashkent, some 20 miles from the epicentre of the explosion.
‘In some social media, fake news spread that the incident in the Sergeli district was a result of a plane crash. This is an absolute lie,’ said the Uzbek Emergencies Ministry.
The ministry later said it was working to establish full details of the cause of the explosion.
Flights at the airport appeared to be taking off and landing as normal, data from flight tracking website FlightRadar24 showed.
But notice to airmen issued at 10.15pm GMT yesterday said a runway at the airport would be closed for takeoff and landing between 2am and 7pm today, but a segment would be available for taxis. It did not provide a reason.
Uzbekistan is the most populous of the central Asian former Soviet republics, and fires attributed to dilapidated equipment and poor adherence to safety standards are common there.
Accidents of this magnitude, however, are still rare.