Huge fire engulfs Kazakh city after petrol tanker crash

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AFP) - A huge fire erupted in Kazakhstan's biggest city of Almaty on Thursday when a petrol tanker burst into flames after crashing on a busy residential street, killing the driver and setting fire to eight other vehicles.

The Almaty municipality said in a statement that dozens of people were evacuated from a neighbouring apartment block as the flames and black smoke spread high into the sky.

"The petrol tanker overturned and exploded, leaking petrol. Eight vehicles caught fire. The flames reached the ninth floor of the residential block," it said in a statement.

"The driver was killed on the spot, there are no other victims."

The spectacular plume of black smoke was easily visible throughout Almaty as rescue services battled to put out the fire and onlookers flocked to take pictures on their mobile phones.

Almaty, in the extreme south east close to the border with China, was capital of Kazakhstan until 1998 when the capital was moved to Astana which is more in the centre of the country.

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