Tag Archives: emergency

Kazakh military plane crashes, four people are killed

ALMATY/MARCH 13 (The Bulletin) — A  Kazakh military plane crashed at Almaty airport, killing four people, the second deadly plane crash in Kazakhstan in the past 15 months.

Kazakhstan’s emergencies ministry said the plane, a Soviet-designed AN-26, was travelling to Almaty from Nur Sultan, the capital, and crashed in foggy conditions.

“On March 13 at 1725, information was received from the dispatch service of the Almaty airport that at 1722 a military plane AN-26 disappeared from the radars by the Nur-Sultan – Almaty route and made an emergency landing at the airport in Almaty,” the emergencies ministry said in its statement. “According to preliminary data, four people died, two injured were sent to the city clinical hospital No. 4 in Almaty.”

Russian media said that the plane had been operated by the Kazakh border guards and there there were six crew members on board but no passengers.

Kazakhstan has a dubious aviation safety record. On Dec. 26 2019, a Bek Air passenger plane crashed shortly after taking off from Almaty airport, killing 12 people. Seven years earlier, in December 2012, another plane operated by the Kazakh border guards service crashed near Shymkent, killing all 27 people on board.

The AN-26, first manufactured in 1969, is the workhorse of many former Soviet military plane fleets. Until 10 years ago, or so, commercial airlines also flew AN-26s, although most have withdrawn them on safety and reliability concerns.

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— This story was published in issue 475 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin, on March 15 2021

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Kazakh pilot makes emergency landing on road

FEB. 8 2021 (The Bulletin) — A Kazakh pilot made an emergency landing with his single-engine biplane on a road in east Kazakhstan. Media reported that the pilot made the emergency landing on the road near Ust-Kamenogorsk after power in the single-engine of his An-2 plane failed. There were three crew and two medical staff on the flight. Nobody was injured. An-2 were mass-produced by the Soviet Union after WW2 and are known for their durability.

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— This story was first published in issue 471 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Fire destroys top Georgian restaurant in Central Asia

BISHKEK/JAN. 22 2021 (The Bulletin)  — A late-night fire destroyed the Pur Pur Georgian restaurant in central Bishkek, considered by many to be the best Georgian restaurant in Central Asia. 

Nobody was hurt in the blaze at the site just off Bishkek’s Philharmomic Square. Police have said that they are investigating the cause of the fire and have declined to comment on speculation of arson.

Pur Pur became a favourite venue for Bishkek-based diplomats wanting to wine and dine contacts and also a favoured hang-out for Central Asia’s small and thirsty foreign press corps. The Lonely Plant guidebook described the shabby-chic Pur Pur as serving “perhaps the best Georgian food this side of the Caspian” with tables groaning under “gigantic khachipuri and flowing decanters of house wine”. 

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— This story was first published in issue 469 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Armenia wants to privatise mountain rescue service

JAN. 19 2021 (The Bulletin) — Armenia wants to privatise its mountain rescue service under a wider sell-off play unveiled by the government. Some Armenian MPs queried whether the mountain rescue service would be able to continue to provide essential services once it had been privatised.

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— This story was first published in issue 469 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Uzbekistan says wants to reform power sector; three workers killed

TASHKENT/JAN. 18 2021 (The Bulletin) — Uzbekistan’s government announced a raft of reforms to its under-pressure power production sector that it hopes will fix outages that have caused shortages and disrupted supplies this winter.

But, a couple of days after publishing its plans to build nine new power plants and to tear down a government monopoly that has run the power generation system in Uzbekistan since it was set up in the Soviet Union, news filtered through that a blast at a thermal power plant had killed three workers.

Media reports said that the three workers were part of a team that were renovating and upgrading the Angren thermal power plant, renovated in 2016 by a Chinese company, near the Uzbek capital.

The blast was triggered by a mixture of coal and dust and air, the Uzbek emergencies ministry said, and immediately highlighted what campaigners have said is the cavalier attitude of Uzbek officials to health and safety issues.

Demand for power in Uzbekistan has soared this year, driven up by rising living standards and also an exceptionally cold winter. The shortages have triggered protest across the country and blackouts that have hit industry and dented confidence in the government which has resorted to buying extra supplies from neighbouring countries. 

As well as commissioning nine new thermal power stations across the country, the most populous in Central Asia, the Uzbek government also said that it would issue permits to private companies to import electricity and to set up an internal market system. 

Analysts said that this was an important step towards the market reform needed to strip away a central Soviet system. They have said that the centralised system is cumbersome and not nimble enough to respond to large increases in demand, both seasonal and systemic.

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— This story was first published in issue 469 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Trial begins of manslaughter over dam collapse

DEC. 25 2020 (The Bulletin) — Uzbekistan’s Supreme Court began the trial for manslaughter through negligence of eight men who built and designed a dam in the north of the country that burst in 2020, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, forcing 70,000 people to flee their homes and killing six people. The case is being closely watched in Uzbekistan. Officials said that they suspected that corruption was partly to blame for the failure of the dam, which was finished in 2017.

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— This story was first published in issue 467 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Georgia sells US dollar reserves to prop up lari currency

MARCH 26 (The Bulletin) — In Georgia, the Central Bank sold $140m of its currency reserves to prop up its ailing currency and also released a statement which said that its economy would recover once it has come through the fallout of the coronavirus. 

All shops have been closed, other than pharmacies and food shops. As reported on page 5, Georgia’s important tourist industry is facing collapse. Estimates said that 9m people visited Georgia in 2019, double the number from 2012.

The government has not yet downgraded its GDP growth estimates for 2020 but analysts said they expected this to happen within the next few days.

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— This story was first published in issue 440 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia report coronavirus infections

TBILISI/March 2 2020 (The Bulletin) — Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia all declared their first cases of the coronavirus Covid-19 and closed their borders with Iran, a hotbed of the disease.

In Central Asia, governments blocked entry to countries that they considered high-risk and cut flights to China in a desperate attempt to keep out the coronavirus that has spread around the world from its origin in the city of Wuhan.

All the confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the South Caucasus appear to have been linked with Iran. Borders between Iran and Armenia and Azerbaijan have become increasingly porous over the past few years as trade and relations improved.

Governments in the South Caucasus appealed to the public not to panic. In an Instagram message, Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili stood on a commuter bus wearing a facemask. She appeared to be the only person wearing a mask.

“Let’s spread #SafetynotFear!” she wrote. “We need to show people that safety means remaining calm and being responsible.”

In Armenia, PM Nikol Pashinyan was more dismissive of the threat from the virus, saying that flu was a bigger killer. He also said that the health services were on top of the situation in Armenia, although there was a “shortage of masks”.

Central Asian countries have not reported any cases of the coronavirus, although analysts said that this may be because officials were not keen on reporting them or that health officials had failed to spot them.

And governments continued to try to incubate against the disease.  Kazakhstan cut the number of flights to China and South Korea and stopped issuing visas to Chinese. 

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— This story was first published in issue 438 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

Smugglers triggered ethnic violence, says Tokayev

MARCH 1 2020 (The Bulletin) — Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart-Tokayev said that ethnic fighting in a series of villages in south Kazakhstan that killed at least 11 people, mainly ethnic Dungans, was caused by a dispute between rival smuggling gangs. In the aftermath of the violence, the authorities downplayed any threat to their idea of Kazakhstan as a place for dozens of different ethnic groups to live in harmony together.
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— This story was first published in issue 438 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020

Appeal of Uzbek human rights activist begins in Kyrgyzstan

FEB. 25 2020 (The Bulletin) — Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court started hearing the appeal against a life prison sentence given to Uzbek human rights defender Azimjan Askarov. He was originally arrested in 2010, in the aftermath of ethnic violence in Osh that killed 450 people, mainly Uzbeks, and was accused of stirring ethnic tension. The US has criticised the Kyrgyz government for arresting and imprisoning Askarov.
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— This story was first published in issue 438 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2020