A Blast in Masallı, Likely Gas Explosion; Not Terrorism
This was fairly shocking to read a few days ago:
At around 14:30 on Monday in Masalli, 250 km to the south from Baku, an explosion took place in the Central ATS (Automatic Telephone Station), according to the regional Prosecutor Office. The strength of explosion was very great, and a part of four-storey building has completely collapsed….The reason for the explosion is not clear, but they do not refuse the possibility of act of terrorism, said the Mayor of Masalli city Lachin Sadikhov. Law enforcement agencies commenting on the situation also do not deny the possibility of the act of terrorism. The positions of Islamists in this zone, which have been suppressed by the authorities, are very string.
Yes. I know that I’m posting a news report that should probably be shuffled away and not publicized, filed and stored under the category, Don’t Tell Mom (sorry, Mom): Masallı is a region just north of Lənkəran, about 20-25 kilometers away. (Further coverage here and here and here)
After a bit of calling around, and notifying our Safety & Security Officer, we were able to get some more information. While the news reports don’t comment on the cause, my information tells me that the explosion was determined not to have been of terrorist origin, but instead a gas leak and explosion. Shortly after the accident, a few of our volunteers in the city of Masallı reported seeing a rescue helicopter, and there were still some road closings in the city as of yesterday.
I’m highlighting this story not for the terrorism speculation (though people in Azerbaijan certainly do recognize this southern region as an area of stronger religious fervor), but instead the infrastructure aspect. Having been told this was the result of a gas leak, I looked through some recent headlines and found an almost alarming number of gas-related accidents. I counted five more cases in these two stories alone. And the number of gas accidents reported since the onset of winter has certainly increased. This is where we really see how Azerbaijan is both a young nation and an old country: while we experience strong forces towards modern technological improvements (think of this DSL internet connection I’m on, or the incredible mobile phone service that never drops a call, or the satellite TV everyone is piping in), the country is built on aging infrastructure, with very few, if any, people paying attention to its maintenance or replacement.