More than 1,000 trucks were damaged by a massive fire that started on Saturday in the customs area of the border town of Islam Qala in Herat province, Yunus Qazizada, head of the Herat Chamber of Commerce and Investment said on Tuesday.
“Possibly the number will go up as the investigation continues,” Qazizada said.
In the meantime, a local government source said that the findings of the appointed delegation show that 902 so far have been burned in the incident, adding that “investigations are still ongoing into the incident.”
The fire broke out in the customs area on Saturday afternoon and was extinguished after 24 hours, according to the Finance Ministry.
Hundreds of investors and truck-owners gathered outside the Herat governor’s office, saying that corruption in the customs office is the cause of the fire.
“They should compensate us. We didn't get [our assets] for free,” said Khalil Ahmad, a driver.
“The governor should pass on our message to the president and high-ranking officials. We need compensation. We’re devastated,” said Abdul Qadir, a driver.
“All those who are here had one truck or had a 50% share in it,” said Tariq Salehi, a driver.
The Chamber of Commerce and Investment has estimated the costs to investors and truck owners to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The chamber warned that Herat economy would face a recession if those affected are not supported.
Herat governor Sayed Waheed Qatali said dozens of goods trucks were “looted” during the incident but were recovered by security forces, adding that the fire happened due to negligence and corruption in the customs office.
Investors have said that 700 to 1,000 trucks caught fire, but Qatali said that at least 2,000 vehicles were evacuated from the area during the incident.