(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP
Tashkent: An overnight explosion at a warehouse near the airport in Uzbekistan's capital Tashkent caused multiple injuries, authorities in the Central Asian country said Thursday.
"There was an explosion, then a fire, which is still burning," a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Emergency Situations told AFP, having previously blamed the blast on a strong lightning strike.
The health ministry said on the messaging platform Telegram that "urgent medical care is being provided to those injured in the fire and in the surrounding apartments".
So far, "there are no serious injuries", it added, also blaming the explosion on lightning.
However, a hospital official in Tashkent later told AFP they had treated "10 injured people, including one in a serious condition".
The health ministry said the fire broke out in a warehouse in the airport zone. The country's biggest airport is functioning normally, according to the Uzbek national news agency UZa.
Videos circulating on social media showed a column of flames and smoke rising into the night sky.
The blast blew out the windows of several houses in the surrounding area and damaged their interiors, while ambulances worked to evacuate those injured, an AFP journalist on the scene witnessed.
Explosions continued to ring out in the hours after the blaze broke out as emergency crews tackled the fire.
"I woke up at night, I thought it was an earthquake," said Koutepov Moustafo, a 72-year-old retiree who lives nearby and whose house was affected.
"Then I saw the fire. My son was injured in the leg," he told AFP.
"I am asking the authorities to compensate for the damage as winter approaches, as I do not have the means to repair it on my own," he added.
Uzbekistan is the most populous of the Central Asian former Soviet republics. Fires attributed to outdated equipment and non-compliance with safety standards are a regular occurrence.
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