[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Fire destroys market in Afghan capital

Authorities confirmed blaze in Kabul engulfed most of the downtown cloth market's 500 shops but reported no casualties.
Last Modified: 23 Dec 2012 21:35
Shopkeepers lost millions of dollars worth of merchandise in the blaze [GALLO/GETTY]

A massive fire has swept through a market in the Afghan capital, Kabul, destroying hundreds of shops and forcing the city's nearby money exchange to evacuate.

"Police helped the money market evacuate and remove their money from the market to safe places"

- Kabul police official

Authorities confirmed Sunday's blaze had engulfed most of the downtown cloth market's 500 shops, but caused no casualties.

Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Glasse, reporting from the site, said: "Inside hundreds and hundreds of shops have been burnt. The shopkeepers tell us that they have tens of thousands of dollars in the shops."

"Much of the merchandise has also been destroyed. It’s going to be very difficult to estimate the damages here, but it’s probably worth millions of dollars," she added

Kabul fire department officials told the AFP news agency that an electrical short circuit was the most likely cause of the fire, which was so severe that NATO and Afghan army fire squads were called in to help.

"We are all working together to get this under control," the official said.

An AFP photographer at the scene said the fire had reduced hundreds of shops to charcoal.

A Kabul police official who also spoke under condition of anonymity told AFP separately that the nearby currency exchange market, the war-torn country's largest, had to be evacuated as the fire approached its outer walls.

"Police helped the money market evacuate and remove their money from the market to safe places," he said.

Kabul, which is home to around five million people, has a poor fire safety reputation, though the fire department was upgraded with international help after the fall of the Taliban regime in a US-led invasion in late 2001.

327

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.