Turkmen In Storm-Devastated East Say Left Without State Assistance

TURKMENABAT, Turkmenistan — Residents in several towns and districts in Turkmenistan’s eastern regions of Lebap and Mary say the government has left them without assistance after being hit by several deadly storms last week.

RFE/RL correspondents on the scene said they counted at least 30 people, including many children, killed in the Lebap region only by the storms and heavy rains that destroyed houses and automobiles on April 27.

As heavy rains resumed on May 4, many of those whose houses and cattle shelters were destroyed in the initial wave of storms said they faced “severe food shortages” as food prices rocketed amid “the chaos.”

Some residents accused local authorities of forcing them to sign papers saying that they “did not have any complaints” regarding the local government’s response to the storms.

In the capital of the Lebap region, Turkmenabat, authorities are offering owners of damaged houses some construction materials at reduced prices, but people said they didn’t have cash to pay even those rates.

Electricity, water, and gas supplies have not been fully restored in the province and its capital since the storms.

Meanwhile, media in the tightly controlled Central Asian country have not reported anything about the storms and the aftermath, a week after they hit.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has established a pervasive cult of personality since becoming Turkmenistan’s leader in 2006 after the death of his authoritarian predecessor, Saparmurat Niyazov.

Berdymukhammedov has hot commented publicly on the storms.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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