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Central Asia's largest mosque ravaged by fire

January 15, 2012
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ASTANA, Kazakhstan—Emergency officials say at least one person has died in a fire at the largest mosque in Central Asia, in the capital of Kazakhstan.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said Sunday's fire spread over an area of 800 square meters (8,600 square feet) inside the Khazret Sultan mosque in Astana.

Laborers at the site of the 17,500 square-meter (188,000 square-foot) mosque, which was still under construction, said they heard screams from a man trapped inside the building.

Amateur footage uploaded to the Internet showed the building engulfed in billowing black smoke.

Emergency officials said the blaze was likely caused by welding equipment that set fire to scaffolding installed beneath the central dome.

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