Turkmen Family Die From Gas Exposure

Four members of one family have died from carbon monoxide poisoning in eastern Turkmenistan. Only the family’s son survived, as he was not at home at the time. The tragedy is thought to have been caused by fluctuations in pressure in the gas supply system, which caused the light in the stove to go out.

Jahan Annageldiyeva with her daughters Selbi and Dunyagozel

It’s not known exactly when the family died. In the morning of December 4, English teacher Jahan Annageldiyeva was at work at the River Technical College. Some 24 hours later, Jahan, her husband, and two daughters, Selbi and Dunyagozel, were found dead at their home in Urgenji district in the city of Turkmenabat.

The couple’s son Ovez, who is in the 11th grade at school, was in Ashgabat that weekend for a sports competition.

The gas stove that heated the house probably went out because of a jump in pressure. When the pressure normalized, the unlit gas started to leak and poisoned the sleeping family.

Fluctuations in pressure are a frequent occurrence in Turkmenabat and Lebap region as a whole at present, especially in rural areas. On December 2 and 3, the whole of Turkmenabat smelt of gas for some reason, probably the result of a leak at a gas deposit.

Jahan Annageldiyeva used to work at school No. 2 in Turkmenabat. In 2012 she was a finalist in the American Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program (TEA), which enables teachers of various subjects from around the world to spend several weeks in the USA.

Turkmenistan’s authorities do not formally ban participation in such programs, but unofficially Annageldiyeva, like participants in other American exchange programs, was summoned for a “conversation” to the Ministry of National Security. They security services tried to persuade her not to go, threatening her with dismissal. There aren’t many people who stick to their decision after such treatment, but Annageldiyeva was not afraid. She was sacked from her school and not reinstated on her return from the USA. She later found a job teaching English at the Turkmenabat River Technical College.

Everyone who knew Jahan says she was a wonderful person and talented teacher. During a three-month course at California State University (Chico) she learnt a great deal about modern teaching methods and put them into practise. Students at the River College had a rare opportunity in Turkmenistan: the chance to learn English to a high standard.

“Jahan was a very intelligent and dedicated teacher always seeking new ways to let her students learn better,” said Dina De Leon – a teacher from El Salvador who was on the same program with Jahan Annageldiyeva.

Jahan Annageldiyeva receiving her certificate of completion. Photo credit: Dina De Leon

“She was very kind and friendly sharing unforgettable moments with me as a TEA sister. I am devastated,” she said.

The teacher’s elder daughter Selbi planned to follow in her mother’s footsteps. She was in her second year of study at the local pedagogical institute. Her younger daughter Dunyagozel was still at school. All we know about Annageldiyeva’s husband is that he worked for the state. People from the Ministry of National Security Ministry had also talked to him, telling him to dissuade his wife from taking part in the American program.

The family was buried on December 6.