A fire has swept through the largest mosque in Kazakhstan's capitol on Sunday and at least one person is known to have been killed.
Laborers at the site of the 17,500 square-meter (188,000 square-foot) Khazret Sultan mosque, which was still under construction, said they heard screams from a man trapped inside the building.
Local news websites reported that 30 vehicles and 170 firemen were called in to tackle the fire.
The Associated Press news agency, which described the mosque as the largest in Central Asia, quoted Emergency Ministry officials as saying that welding equipment used by workmen might have started the fire by igniting the scaffolding installed beneath the central dome.
The Emergencies Ministries also confirmed that one person had been killed in the fire.
The mosque was only opened in September. Its main hall can hold roughly 5,000 worshippers.
Kazakhstan is Central Asia's wealthiest country and has a population of about 16.5 million. It is a nominally Muslim country.
James Kilner, "Fire engulfs Kazakhstan's largest mosque" The Telegraph UK January 15, 2012
"Central Asia's largest mosque ravaged by fire, 1 person killed" Washington Post January 15, 2012
Reproduced with permission from Islam Today