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Cafe explosion in Kazakhstan leaves 18 injured 18 сентября 2014, 15:19

An explosion in Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, has left 18 injured. Causes of the explosion are being investigated.
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After the explosion. ©Tengrinews After the explosion. ©Tengrinews

An explosion in a cafe in Almaty has left 18 people injured. Keremet café is located on the first floor of Partner business center  on Makatayev street, Tengrinews correspondent reports.

The explosive blast was so strong that it injured people standing in the street outside the cafe, overturned all the furniture inside the cafe's kitchen and heavily dented a gate made of thick iron bars. But, it caused absolutely no fire... and left the propane cylinders stored right outside the building undamaged.

According to the deputy head of the fire service Oleg Messerschmidt, visitors, workers and several passers-by were affected by the blast. None of them received any heavy injuries. They were all taken to four different hospitals.

The explosion happened at 9:52 p.m. on September 17. The fire service arrived at the scene with four vehicles and 32 firemen. Messerschmidt said that preliminary data suggest that a gas leak caused the explosion in the kitchen.

An eyewitness of the incident said that the staff of the cafe smelled the gas and asked the visitors to immediately leave the establishment. However, it wan't soon enough. The explosion happened right when the people approached the door.

There are no gas supply pipes in the building that is why the cafe was using bottle propane to cook. Both the building and the cafe hold valid fire safety regulations compliance certificates.

The exact cause of the explosion is being investigated, Messerschmidt said. “Major damages are to the window openings and interior partitions. Most likely this is something related to gas. But this a preliminary conclusion. This is being investigated by competent authorities at the moment,” he said.

According to the technical standards applied in Kazakhstan, gas cylinders are supposed to be kept outside, and some of them were, but not all of them it turned out. 

Answering a reporter’s question on whether any gas cylinders were found inside Messerschmidt said: “Yes, we brought out three gas cylinders.” He didn't specify if the cylinders were raptured. 

Propane gas cylinders do not explode easily and nor do they explode on their own. Propane cylinders will not explode when they are used and stored in accordance with the standards. In many cases, the gas bottle itself is not even involved in the event. Besides, gas bottles are always supposed to be stored outdoors.

Gas cylinder-related fires or explosions are usually caused by leaking gas that escapes from a faulty appliance. Most leaks are too small for enough gas to be accumulated in the room to cause an explosion. A special smelly substance is added to the gas for people to be able to notice (smell) the leak in time.

A large amount of gas has to collect in a room or section of a structure before it can explode. And such explosions are bound to cause a fire or can be provoked by a fire as an option.

There are no signs of fire in the cafe's kitchen. Can there be a propane explosion without a fire?

And another interesting detail. Judging from the way the furniture is scattered in the kitchen after the explosion it has been pushed away from the window and to the back wall. Can an explosion inside the kitchen do that? The metal fence is also dented inwards.   

By Tatyana Kuzmina and Dinara Urazova (Dinara Aibasova contributed to the story)

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