Friday, August 03, 2012 -
Kazakh security forces were deployed Friday to restore order after a huge fire engulfed parts of an open-air market in Shymkent in southern Kazakhstan, killing one person.
Eyewitnesses say the fire broke out simultaneously in four different places of the sprawling Bekzhan market place at around 4.40 am local time.
They said the dead man had worked and slept at the market and was probably sleeping when the building caught fire.
"The body was found in one of the shops under the rubble. The body is badly burned, and it is impossible to identify. Exact details will be known only after the examination," the KyrTAG news agency reported a senior official as saying.
Firefighters equipped with 29 fire engines got the inferno under control by 8 am. By that time it had spread to an area of some 43,000 square feet.
Later in the morning some 3,000 outraged traders gathered at the market administration building and began throwing rocks at the offices, demanding compensation for the damage.
The angry businessmen told a local journalist that the market owners had collected their rent and taxes just a day earlier and that they were left without any money.
Police and soldiers responded by condoning off that section of the sprawling market.
“A double cordon was set up - riot police comprising the first line and Interior Ministry troops in the second line,” KyrTAG reported.
The eyewitnesses blamed arsonists.
But Shymkent deputy mayor Bolatbek Aliyev said it was too early to say how the fire started.
He said city authorities are establishing a special commission to look into the causes of the fire and ascertain the damages.
Bekzhan market owner Amirkhan Shumenov said he would provide traders with places at other bazaars in the city.