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Event: OT Other
Number: 2022-000296
Country: ARM Armenia
Location: Yerevan
Date (YMD): 2022-8-14
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Comments: On August 14 at 1:23 PM, a massive explosion occurred in one of the largest markets of Yerevan called Surmalu, about two kilometres (1.2 miles) south of the very centre of the capital. The explosion occurred in the basement of a three-floor shopping building, which is completely destroyed, and caused the infrastructure damages on the area of about 9,000 square meters comprising abundance of buildings used by local shop owners at the Surmalu market. A massive fire teared through the area with a plume of smoke spreading quickly following the blast. The explosion was confirmed to have caused 1 death and 20 injuries within the first hour after the explosion while in the morning of 21 August, the number of injured raised to 62 and the number of deaths to 16. According to the Minister of Emergency Situations, there are still 1 people reported missing officially. The number of shops and stores in the affected area is unknown as the majority remained unregistered and unofficial micro-businesses; only around 20 shop owners are confirmed to have been registered, all of which are destroyed. The explosion is considered to have been triggered by a fire in the fireworks warehouse that started several minutes before the explosion; the Government of Armenia has indicated violation of norms and standards in the fireworks depot of the building as a possible cause of the explosion; however, this is yet to be confirmed upon the completion of the ongoing investigation. The emergency teams of the firefighting unit under the Ministry of Emergency's State Rescue Service were dispatched immediately to extinguish the fire; however, the explosion occurred before their arrival on site. The explosion has caused a widespread fear and panic among the population of Armenia due to the nature of explosive disasters being associated with terrorist attacks. The explosion was followed by subsequent recurring bomb alerts initiated at public spaces in Yerevan, such as metro and bus stations, which have contributed to increased fear and panic among the population. It is also worth noting that the level of sensitivity towards this disaster among the population is significantly high due to the conflict escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020 and the political environment in the region.
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